Five Years of Hell Come to End: Man Cleared of Rape Because Jury not Told Alleged Victim Previously Made False Claim of Indecent Assault
March 17, 2014
A Birmingham man who was found guilty of rape after jurors were not told his alleged victim had previously made a false claim of indecent assault has had his conviction quashed.
Three Appeal Court judges heard that the “mistake” by West Midlands Police was uncovered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) after Sajid Ali had spent two-and-a-half years in jail.
Mr Ali, from Aston, claimed he had suffered “five years of hell” since he was originally arrested.
He was handed a five-year sentence at the city’s crown court in January 2009 after being convicted of raping a woman he met while working as a floor-layer.
But the Court of Appeal, sitting at Birmingham Crown Court, heard that jurors who tried the 41-year-old were unaware that the alleged victim had made a bogus allegation of indecent assault five years earlier.
Police checks made before Mr Ali’s trial failed to find any trace of the previous incident.
It emerged during the appeal hearing that records uncovered by the CCRC showed the woman wrongly claimed to have been sexually assaulted by a stranger in Birmingham city centre in 2004.
CCTV footage taken at the time of the earlier incident showed the woman walking arm-in-arm with a man, and she later conceded she made the false report because she “regretted” her contact with him.
The Court of Appeal was told the background information about the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, should have been made available at Mr Ali’s trial.
Quashing Mr Ali’s conviction and ordering that there should not be a retrial, Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, said it was unclear why the CCRC had been able to find the information but West Midlands Police had not.
Directing the Chief Constable of the West Midlands Chris Sims to provide a report to the court explaining the blunder, Lord Thomas added: “It seems to us that the defendant is entitled to know why this matter arose.”
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Ali’s solicitor, Khuram Yaqub said his client had been through “five years of hell”.
Mr Yaqub commented: “He has always said from the outset that he is innocent.
“He is relieved that his conviction has been quashed but he is also upset and disappointed that this information was not found by the police.”