A gavel is seen in a hearing room in Panama City April 7, 2016. court judge hammer
A gavel is seen in a hearing room in Panama City April 7, 2016. Reuters/Carlos Jasso

An NSW man dubbed as the Facebook rapist has been jailed for 40 years. Andrew James Benn previously pleaded guilty to raping or indecently assaulting 14 teenagers and young women he met on social media, like Facebook, Tinder and Snapchat.

The court heard that between September 2012 and January 2017, the 29-year-old North Rothbury resident reached out to his victims on social media sites. He would trawl through the personal accounts of random young women in the NSW Hunter region and send them friend requests. After befriending them and gaining their confidence, he would arrange for their meeting and then he would attack them.

One case involved a 17-year-old girl he met on Facebook. He sent her a friend request in November 2013 and spent weeks chatting with her online. When he had convinced her to meet him, he took her to a boat ramp at Morpeth in Maitland and raped her in the backseat. Benn raped her again after driving the year 11 student to the Morpeth cemetery.

The girl gave an emotional victim impact statement to the court, saying she was ashamed of what he had done to her. She kept the incident to herself, not even telling her mother about it. She had suffered panic attacks and nightmares, subsequently failing year 11.

Benn, when he was 23 in 2012, had sex with a girl twice when she was 15 and then 16. When the girl left her iPod in his car, Benn blackmailed her into giving him more sex in exchange for the iPod. The girl later told him she didn’t want her iPod back, but Benn said he would upload sensitive photos of her online.

“You do realise that’s child [pornography],” the girl wrote to him, as quoted by the Newcastle Herald. “And you will get in a lot of trouble. You know I can charge you with rape?”

Benn wasn’t fazed, instead replying to the girl with, “Cool.”

He was arrested in January 2017 after two teenage girls and three women, aged between 16 and 20, reported him to the police. Nine more victims then came forward to give their stories.

He pleaded guilty to 33 charges, including 21 counts of sexual intercourse without consent. Newcastle District Court judge Roy Ellis, who called Benn “depraved” and “evil,” read out his “indicative sentences” for each of the 33 counts. He said if he imposed the sentences, it would result in an “American-style number” of 169 years in jail.

The judge instead gave him an aggregate sentence of 40 years. He could only be eligible for parole after 30 years.

“I want to pass on to all the victims present that I hope the finalisation of this matter does provide some closure for you all,” Judge Ellis told Benn’s many victims, some of them were in the courthouse.