The ex-partner of former prime minister Julia Gillard used his relationship with her to escape a harsher sentence for a perverse sexual assault on a friend.
Tim Mathieson – known during Ms Gillard’s reign as Australia’s “first guy” – pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault and was found guilty on Thursday and fined $7,000 .
The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard Mathieson sucked his sleeping friend’s nipple after she fell asleep on his sofa before returning for more when she objected.
Pleading for mercy, Mathieson’s lawyer, Brad Penno, gave a lengthy description of his client’s prior relationship with the former prime minister, describing how they met, fell in love and ultimately separated.
Tim Mathieson sexually assaulted his vulnerable neighbor after she fell asleep on her own sofa
Prosecutors described Mathieson’s offense as an aggravated and opportunistic sexual assault against an alleged friend in her own home.
Mathieson had hoped to be released without conviction on good behavior bail, but magistrate Belinda Franjic had different ideas.
The respected magistrate condemned Mathieson’s behavior, describing it as a serious example of sexual assault.
“This is a victim who is vulnerable because of his sleep. Second, this happened in the victim’s home, which makes it particularly egregious. Thirdly, it was not fleeting…he kept trying to put his mouth back on her breast, which compounds the seriousness of the offending,” she said.
“This is a particularly intimate form of sexual assault.”
The court heard Mathieson’s victim lived one floor below his East Brunswick apartment, which he originally bought with the former prime minister.
The pair had met while walking their dogs and became close friends during Victoria’s harsh Covid-19 lockdowns.
On March 13 last year, the court heard the woman invited Mathieson to dinner.
After a long drinking session, the court heard the two men sat down to watch a documentary about Whitney Houston.
Senior Constable Simpkin said Mathieson jumped when his victim fell asleep, collapsing onto his left side.
“The complainant woke up some time later and felt someone sucking on her right nipple. The complainant froze and noticed that her top had been pulled down, exposing her right breast and that the accused had his mouth on her right nipple while his hand cupped her right breast,” she said .
Tim Mathieson, the ex-partner of former prime minister Julia Gillard, has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman. He is pictured with Ms Gillard in 2010
“The complainant pushed the accused away and told him: ‘Don’t do that.’ As the complainant pushed the accused away, he tried to put his mouth back on her breast.
Mathieson left in disgrace before apologizing the next day for his behavior.
He initially denied sexually assaulting his former friend, telling police his victim had consensually participated in his vile abuse.
The disgraced hairdresser only pleaded guilty after prosecutors agreed to drop two counts of stalking, when he was accused of entering the woman’s home without her permission.
Tim Mathieson is accused of intentionally touching the woman’s nipple without her consent in Brunswick East, in Melbourne’s inner city, on March 13 last year.
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard unwittingly found herself embroiled in her ex-partner’s filthy sexual assault
The woman provided a heartbreaking victim impact statement to the court, describing how she was forced to leave the country because she was so afraid and ashamed of the unwanted attack.
Mr Penno told the court Ms Gillard owned a share in Mathieson’s East Brunswick flat but never lived there with him.
In an attempt to mitigate his client’s offense, Mr. Penno claimed that his client’s victim had often slept in his bed with him.
Mr Penno said Mathieson was extremely drunk at the time of the attack and had little memory of it.
The pair had been friends since 2020 and Mathieson repeatedly said she was not sexually interested in him.
“Early in the relationship, the complainant was unsure how the relationship with Mr Mathieson would develop… it could be described as a close, but non-sexual relationship,” Mr Penno said.
“It was clear in the latter stages of the relationship that the complainant was not interested in having a sexual relationship with Mr Mathieson and she made this clear to him.”
Mathieson faced up to 10 years in prison for the offense.
Mathieson lived with Ms Gillard at the Lodge in Canberra when she was Prime Minister, but Gillard revealed in early 2022 that the couple had separated some time earlier.
He was a hairdresser when he met Ms Gillard in 2004.
He has three children, including daughter Sherri Mathieson who once appeared on the reality TV show The Bachelor.
Mathieson is pictured leaving his lawyer’s office in Melbourne on Thursday
After Ms Gillard became Prime Minister in 2010, the couple became the first unmarried couple to live at The Lodge until she was ousted in a leadership reversal in 2013.
Mathieson frequently accompanied the Prime Minister on his engagements in Australia and on official trips overseas.
During her time as the Prime Minister’s wife, Mathieson undertook voluntary work for Kidney Health Australia, the Indigenous Diabetes Association and mental health group Beyond Blue.
He was also patron of the Australian Men’s Shed Association, whose mission is to encourage men to meet and discuss their problems in a comfortable environment.
Ms Gillard told the Adelaide Advertiser in March this year that she split from Mathieson more than a year ago, after a decade and a half together.
Despite saying in 2011 that he wanted to marry Ms Gillard, the couple never married.