A cunning Sydney rapist who posed as a doctor to lure his victims to his unit where he forced them into “prolonged sexual acts” has failed at having his 18-year jail sentence cut.
In every woman’s worst dating nightmare, David Gabrieli embarked on a “concerted campaign of predatory sexual offending” in which he treated women as objects, three NSW Supreme Court justices have ruled.
Court documents state the 41-year-old met the women on dating apps and websites in 2017 and 2018, calling himself a doctor and posting photos of himself from more than a decade earlier.
After some back-and-forth online chat, he arranged to meet them in public but then gave excuses as to why they should instead go to his home in Sydney’s eastern suburb of Maroubra.
According to court documents, the French national had no medical qualifications and held a background in home renovation, real estate, sales and marketing.
On one occasion, he met a woman he’d spoken to on the dating app RSVP at a cafe near his home, when — unbeknown to her — it was about to close, so she accepted his invitation to have the coffee at his place.
After about 20 minutes of them chatting, they began to kiss.
When Gabrieli tried to go further, the woman told him to stop, saying it was “going too fast”.
Instead, he took her by the wrist and assaulted her, despite her repeating that she did not want to do the acts he asked for.
Another woman agreed to meet him at his apartment for a Boxing Day swim, after texting him that she was not interested in sex and only wanted to get to know him.
When Gabrieli forced himself upon her in a similar manner to the previous woman, she told him she thought she was “coming here to swim”.
The father-of-two sickeningly responded: “Well this is what men do”.
He then physically prevented the woman from exiting his apartment, saying: “You’re not leaving until you calm down”. She eventually managed to escape.
The third victim matched with Gabrieli on Bumble and met him at a restaurant very close to his house because he claimed to be an on-call doctor. Upon their arrival, he complained of a headache and convinced the woman to go back to his unit.
There, he assaulted her in a manner which is too graphic to detail.
He repeated the same version of violating events with his fourth victim.
The French national was found guilty in a 2020 trial of 19 sexual offences against the four women and was later sentenced to 18 years in jail with a 13-year non-parole period.
He took his case to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal to seek a reduced sentence on the grounds it was excessive and unjust.
But on Monday, Justice Helen Wilson and Justice Desmond Fagan dismissed his appeal, ruling he committed “deliberate, planned serial abuse of four women”.
In their judgment published online, they wrote he treated them as “objects” to sexually satisfy himself, disregarding their rights and welfare — and did not admit wrongdoing during the court proceedings.
“This was a concerted campaign of predatory sexual offending,” they wrote, adding much of it was “prolonged and involved multiple forced sexual acts”.
“The applicant’s misleading profiles of himself on RSVP and Bumble were placed well in advance of the encounters,” they wrote.
“Text exchanges were carried on to the extent necessary for the applicant to lure the victims to meet with him.”
Premeditation was proved by his pattern of behaviour inside his unit, the justices ruled, including the “overbearing of each complainant’s initial refusal of consent,” having them “rendered powerless by the situation, being trapped in an apartment with a large strong male”.
“The force applied varied from one offence to the next, but the complainants’ perceptions that resistance would be futile were rational, entirely understandable and probably wise”.
“The immediate anxiety, fear and degradation for each of the young women concerned was made clear to the learned judge from hearing them give their evidence in the trial”.
During the trial, one victim, who cannot be identified, shared how she considered cancelling on Gabrieli last minute as she was tired.
In the victim impact statement read out in court, she said her friends encouraged her to go, saying he “seems nice”.
Speaking of how he lured her into his apartment from the cafe they were supposed to meet at, she said he “came across as professional” when stating he was on-call as a doctor and had a headache.
“His string of lies was plausible enough. Before that I had never come across someone who had embellished so successfully,” she said.
When she opened the door and immediately realised he did not look anything like his Bumble app photos, she thought maybe they’d “just talk” and then she’d leave.
“I blamed myself for not seeing through it. Why did I go to his flat? Why didn’t I run? But I had never met anyone like him,” she said.
“But what happened next changed my life … After he took what he wanted I had to let strangers take more things from me: my hair cut, my body swabbed.
“I couldn’t bear the thought of him hurting someone else. But he did, I was one of many, I couldn’t stop him. Someone else felt the same terror, the same awfulness.”
Gabrieli, who also goes by the name of Ali Ghedab, will be first eligible for parole on August 28, 2031.
— With Benedict Brook