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04/08/2021

Rapist who followed student home after sexually assaulting her on a bus loses appeal

Rapist who followed student home after sexually assaulting her on a bus loses appeal

A man who raped a foreign student at her home after sexually assaulting her on a bus, has lost an appeal against his conviction.

Delivering the decision of the three-judge Court of Appeal on Friday, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said there was "overwhelming evidence" to convict Ibrahim Gharib.

42-year-old Gharib, an Egyptian national, was convicted in November 2017 of rape, sexual assault and threatening to kill or cause serious injury to his then 27-year-old victim on July 7 and 8 2016. The rape and threat occurred at the victim's home while the sexual assault occurred earlier, on a bus as she travelled home.

Gharib's lawyers argued to the appeal court that his trial was unfair because Dr John Birmingham, who examined the victim, gave evidence that he found debris in her perineal area that was "consistent with carpet". The allegation was that he raped her on a carpeted stairway, but counsel for Gharib complained the doctor was not qualified to give that evidence and did not retain the material for further analysis.

Mr Justice McCarthy said that a sample of the debris might have been useful as it may have corroborated or undermined Dr Birmingham's evidence. However, given the "overwhelming evidence" against Gharib, he said it would have added little to the case. He pointed out there was an eye witness to the rape whose bona fides and recollection could not be challenged, which Mr Justice McCarthy described as "rare indeed". The victim also had an injury to her back consistent with her description of the attack and there was evidence that she did not want intimacy with Gharib from her text messages and what she said to her friend. There was also Gharib's semen on her body and the fact he denied sexual intercourse until he was told about the semen. The judge also noted that Gharib ran away through an open front door when interrupted. He dismissed the appeal.

His three-week trial at the Central Criminal Court heard that Gharib, of Dolmen Heights, Pollerton, Co Carlow met his victim on a bus to Dublin. They got talking and spent some time together but she rejected him when he made sexual advances, and she went to meet a friend.

She was returning to Carlow that night and her friend walked her to the bus station. The court heard she was uneasy to discover that Gharib was going to be on the same bus home.

She got on first and put her rucksack on the seat beside her, but Gharib sat beside her anyway. During the bus journey, Gharib sexually assaulted her by groping her while she tried to fend him off. There was nobody else on the bus who she felt could help and her English was not good enough to alert the bus driver, the court heard.

Gharib then followed the woman home and refused to go away. She texted one of her housemates asking for help but he didn't see the text until the following morning. When they arrived at her home she let him in to use the bathroom but when he emerged, he started masturbating in front of her. When she threatened to take a photo of him, he became angry and started groping her, before they fell on the stairs and he raped her.

She screamed throughout and Gharib threatened to kill her if she did not stop. One of her housemates heard her screaming and came to the landing of the house where he witnessed the rape. When Gharib noticed the man he ran out of the house but was arrested at a later date in Dublin.

When Gharib was questioned by gardai he initially denied any sexual encounter but in his fifth interview, after being told that his semen was found on the victim, he claimed that he had consensual sex with her in her living room. When asked why he didn't say that in his previous interviews, he said: "I did not remember at the time, because I was in a state of confusion.  I had time now to think and remember."

He has three previous convictions, including two for abusive and threatening behaviour in public.

In a victim impact statement read out in court by counsel for the prosecution Ms Pauline Walley SC, the woman said: “The protective layer around me has broken down and I have very little trust in humans.”

She said she was now scared to be on public transport or in public places. Referring to the rape, the woman said: “In that moment, I wished to be dead. After this man raped me, I felt empty, as though nothing mattered.”

The court heard the woman did not wish her attacker to be named as she “doesn't want to destroy his life any more,” Ms Walley said.

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