Man found guilty of raping woman with Down syndrome after luring her back to his house
A man has been convicted of raping a woman with Down syndrome after luring her back to his house.
Faisal Ellahi (34) was also found guilty by a jury of sexual assault after two and a half hours deliberations and a five week trial.
During the trial the jury saw DVDs of interviews with the victim in which she said she became separated from her mother on street before being stopped by Ellahi. He took her to his house where the rape and sexual assault occurred.
Ellahi, who is originally from Haripur in Pakistan, pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape, sexual assault and having sex with a mentally impaired person at his Dublin home on June 12, 2013.
The jury was not required to deliberate on the third count if it convicted of rape.
After the verdict came in, a visibly moved Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the case was one of the most difficult he had ever dealt with. He told the jurors their verdict was "absolutely correct" and that Ellahi's claim that the woman consented to the acts or was capable of consenting to them was "absolutely ludicrous."
“He attempted to deceive you, as he did others, and fool you, but you didn't fall for it,” he told jurors.
Referring to the victim and her family, the judge said the said the case was an example of how "very bad things can happen to very good people."
The victim's family wept and hugged as the verdict came in. There was no reaction from Ellahi.
Mr Justice Hunt heard the victim's family want the matter dealt with as soon as possible. He set a sentence date for January 18, 2016 and said that he hopes the authorities will deport Ellahi after his sentence is complete.
The trial heard that the victim told a specialist interviewer that Ellahi locked the door behind them and that she was afraid he was going to stab or kill her. “I wanted to go home but he wouldn't let me,” she said.
At one point she panicked and started banging on the door screaming “help, mum, help.”
Ellahi gave evidence in his own defence in which he admitted propositioning many women as he walked the streets near his Dublin home. He said he would stop women and ask them to come home with him for “consensual fun”. He said he also used prostitutes.
The court heard evidence from 16 women who were approached by Ellahi in the area around the time of the rape. One women who lived across the road from him said he tried to force his way inside her home after she returned from a night out.
During his evidence, Ellahi admitted “sexual contact” with the special needs victim but denied penetrative sex and claimed that he didn't know she had a mental impairment. He said she looked “normal” to him and that she enjoyed herself.
He said he never heard of Down syndrome until his arrest. He said in his native country people with mental impairments are kept at home or in hospitals and that they wear name badges to indicate they are disabled.
Ellahi moved to Ireland in 2005 where he found work as a security guard. He was unemployed at the time of the rape and spent his days walking the streets, he said.
A psychologist for the defence, Dr Rioghnach O'Leary said Ellahi comes from an area of Pakistan where Sharia law is practised and where there are strict rules against physical contact between men and women.
She presented evidence that he was in the bottom three percent of the population in cognitive functioning and as a result “would have difficulty in adapting to social norms” in Ireland. However because of time constraints, no “lie scale” testing was carried out which would show if the subject was attempting to skew the results of the intelligence tests.
The doctor also said that he showed a elevated sexual preoccupation and that he had a “singular focus on women as potential sexual partners.”
Caroline Biggs SC, prosecuting, presented Ellahi's CV which was found in his flat. This stated that he graduated an advanced IT course and held a degree in business administration court. Ellahi claimed he falsified the CV so he could get a job.
At the start of the trial, Ellahi's defence counsel Padraig Dwyer SC made an application to examine the victim on her past sexual history. He sought permission to question her on if she had kissed somebody before or had a boyfriend. Mr Justice Hunt refused permission on the basis that it was not relevant.
The trial heard that the woman has a mental age as low as seven in some areas and that she requires supervision to do everything except wash and dress. An assessment found that he could not live independently or protect herself against serious exploitation.
In the late afternoon of June 12, 2012 the woman's mother was worried when she hadn't returned home soon after her as expected. She was about to call gardaí when she heard her daughter banging at the door shouting “mum, mum, help, help, let me in.”
Gardaí were called and a massive investigation was launched. Officers canvassed the area and put out a public appeal for information which led to several women coming forward to say they had recently been approached by Ellahi.
The victim was driven around the area and was able to point out the door of the premises she was taken to. Gardaí spoke to everyone who lived in the building including Ellahi who denied any knowledge of the incident.
Over the following nights detectives kept watch outside his house. One night they observed him leaving and speaking to two 15 year old girls in the street. When the girls walked away he began to follow them until gardaí intervened.
He was arrested a week later and interviewed four times. He initially told gardaí he regularly brought women he met on the street back to his house for sex but that he didn't meet anyone that day. Forensic testing later matched his DNA to that found on the woman.
In her interviews the woman said she was out with her mother that day but that they became separated.
She said a man found her on the street and pushed her into a corner before saying “come with me.” She said the man told her he was going to help her before taking her by the hand to a house. “He didn't help me,” she said. “I was confused and scared and sick.”
She said he locked the door behind them and that she was afraid he was going to stab or kill her. “I wanted to go home but he wouldn't let me,” she said.
The woman said that at one point she panicked and started banging on the door screaming “help, mum, help.”
She said that at one point she heard a woman come through the front door and say “I'm home, honey, I'm home.” She said she thought it might be the man's girlfriend or wife.
She said he then walked her downstairs to the door and she went home.