A man who had a threesome with two women on a cruise ship before being detained for days after wrongful rape claims has won a massive court payout.
A man who had a threesome with two women on a cruise ship before being detained for days after wrongful rape claims has won a massive court payout.

Tradie’s huge payout after threesome

A Sydney tradie who was detained on a cruise ship for six days amid wrongful rape claims has been awarded almost $100,000 for the great "distress" the incident caused him.

Daniels Rawlings sued Royal Caribbean Cruises in the NSW District Court over the ordeal aboard the cruise from Sydney to Vanuatu in November 2016, which stemmed from a threesome in his cabin.

Mr Rawlings, then 28, was held in solitary confinement at the orders of the ship's captain Richard Sullivan over suggestions he had sexually assaulted a young woman, known as 'Ms A'.

He was locked up for the majority of the luxury 10-day cruise of the South Pacific he had booked 12 months before with his best mate.

Mr Rawlings was never charged following a police investigation and has now been awarded $97,344 in damages.

Daniel Rawlings successfully sued Royal Caribbean Cruises.
Daniel Rawlings successfully sued Royal Caribbean Cruises.

He was confined against his will between November 15 and 20, 2016, when the ship docked in Sydney, first in a boardroom then an isolated cabin.

For two days the airconditioning tradesman was dressed only in shorts, while security checked on him every 30 minutes while confined in the windowless cabin.

It came after staff decided there was "serious doubt" Ms A had consented to sexual activity with him on November 15 due to her level of intoxication after she was found wandering the ship naked and disorientated, the court heard.

When found early in the morning she told security she was looking for the toilet and believed she was still dancing at Dizzy's Nightclub, the ship's bar where she had met Mr Rawlings.

Police board the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship to investigate the claims. Picture: 7 News
Police board the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship to investigate the claims. Picture: 7 News

Ms A's mother was also concerned her daughter may have been drugged.

Ms A had little recollection of the threesome but the other participant, a woman, told staff, police and the court the sexual activity was consensual.

She said the trio left the nightclub talking and laughing before they took turns having sex with each other, saying Ms A "knew exactly what she was doing".

Mr Rawlings told the court he pushed the two single beds in his cabin together and the three had sex for "several hours", including in the shower.

He said Ms A at one point became sick and he helped her throw up in the toilet before they returned to the bed.

Mr Rawlings' friend and cabin-mate Matthew Champion, who left the room when the three arrived, said he heard giggling and laughing.

Judge John Hatzistergos found Mr Rawlings' initial questioning and detention was justified but said his continued deprivation of liberty was "unreasonable".

He accepted Captain Sullivan, overseeing more than 3000 passengers and crew members, was attempting to investigate "serious" allegations and protect others on board.

The captain told the court during the hearing Ms A's mother threatened to throw Mr Rawlings overboard if she came across him.

"It was a highly charged and emotional response. We needed to make sure they didn't meet," he said.

The Explorer of the Seas docked in Sydney on November 20, 2016. Picture: 7 News
The Explorer of the Seas docked in Sydney on November 20, 2016. Picture: 7 News

However, Mr Rawlings' days spent in confinement was based on an investigation that was "extremely lacking" and hinged on the "suspicion of a crime rather than any evidence", the judge said.

Mr Hatzistergos said even a "cursory" investigation into Ms A's movements on the night in question would have revealed "no evidence of foul play at all".

The court heard Captain Sullivan made the call to continue detention for another three days even when advised by a senior investigator to release Mr Rawlings on November 17.

"In my view detention comprising conditions akin to solitary confinement for the remainder of the journey back to Sydney as described was not reasonable in the circumstances," he said.

The court heard the incident had caused Mr Rawlings great distress both during his detention and after, as he remained uncertain about whether he could face criminal charges.

The matter will return to court for a costs hearing in 2021.

Originally published as Tradie's huge payout after threesome


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