Man jailed for rape of woman appeals conviction over lack of witness statements

Man claims statements not taken by gardaí of two people woman confided in after attack

The man was jailed in October 2018. File photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

The man was jailed in October 2018. File photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

A man jailed for the rape of a woman he had invited to dinner has appealed his conviction at the Court of Appeal, arguing that two witness statements were never taken by gardaí.

Shafik Qadri, a Pakistan national, with a last address at Tuam Road, Galway City, was jailed by Mr Justice Michael White in October 2018 for six years for the rape of a woman he invited to his home for dinner in January 2016.

Qadri (51), who had denied the charge at his Central Criminal Court trial, appeared by video link from the Midlands Prison at Thursday’s virtual hearing of the Court of Appeal.

Michael Bowman SC, for the appellant Qadri, on Thursday argued there were two statements that should have been taken by gardaí but never were. Counsel submitted that this error “compromised the ability for the appellant to have a fair trial”.

Mr Bowman told the three-judge court that two statements from a work colleague of the victim and the colleague’s girlfriend, to whom he said the victim recounted the incident before reporting it the day after the rape, were not taken by gardaí.

Counsel said that before a complaint was made at a Garda station, the complainant confided in both the colleague and his girlfriend, who then both attended the station in support of the victim.

Mr Bowman, in his submission, stated that the fact the victim had confided in her colleague and his girlfriend was only revealed at the sentence hearing for Qadri, after his conviction.

Counsel said that the defence should have been furnished with the statements of these two witnesses to examine for any inconsistencies in the complaint.

Mr Bowman said it was an obligation of the gardaí and prosecution to seek out any and all information in the case, which included the two witnesses.

“The only party who suffers in this situation is the defendant,” said Mr Bowman.

“Without a panoply of material, this singular failing has compromised the ability to have a fair trial, regardless of their statements being good, bad, or indifferent,” he said.

Mr Bowman said the failure to take these two witnesses statements was like “taking a tool out of a toolbox”.

Shane Costelloe SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that the grounds of appeal were “entirely speculative in their approach”.

Mr Costelloe said there was no issue raised during the trial about the victim being accompanied by the couple to the Garda station. He added that it could have been raised in cross-examination but was not.

Mr Costelloe said that there was no question that gardaí failed to disclose any information to the defence at trial.

Mr Bowman said that if the statements of the couple were either consistent or inconsistent with the complainant’s statement then it still would have been up to the defence to deploy this or not at trial.

Mr Costelloe said that whether or not the victim spoke, even to the couple about the rape, was not before any court and that it was “speculation on the part of the appellant and the appeal should be dismissed”.

Mr Bowman said that it was seemingly the position of the DPP that there was “nothing to see here”. He said that the complainant confided in two people and that the absence of their statements was not speculative because the victim said in her own victim impact statement that she was going to confide in the couple “in peace and quiet”.

Mr Bowman said that the error was on the side of the prosecution in the case and that it was “their obligation to remedy it”.

Counsel said that it was “incredulous” that the DPP had not resolved the matter.

Presiding judge Mr Justice John Edwards said that the court would reserve judgement in the case but give it a priority status.