Man acquitted of male rape

| 21/02/2011

(CNS): A forty-year-old man from West Bay has been acquitted of rape of another man in connection with an alleged incident in January last year. The man was accused of forcing a 32-year-old man to have anal and oral intercourse against his will inside a van at a garage located in West Bay on the night of 8 January 2010. However, the judge, who was sitting alone in the case, returned a verdict of not guilty on Friday afternoon when she said that there was no corroborating evidence for the complainant’s account, which, she said, raised serious doubts about his version of events. Justice Marva McDonald-Bishop said as she delivered the verdict that she had “reasonable and not flimsy doubt” that the accused was guilty and the crown had not met the burden of proof.

The judge explained that since neither the medical report nor the scientific evidence supported the crown’s case against Leonard Ebanks, it came down to the complainant’s word against the accused, who vehemently denied the accusation. Although she said it was curious that the complainant would make up such details about what could be seen as a humiliating attack, the two men were known to each other and had a history of dispute. She said it was possible that the complainant had a motive to lie, as he said he was being bullied by Ebanks.

Given the description of the rape, which the complainant described as a lengthy, forced, rough and painful, that he was injured and in discomfort for several days after the event and that it was the first time he had ever had anal intercourse, the judge said common sense told her that there would have been some medical evidence of this rape. But, she noted, the medical exam conducted less than five hours after the alleged attack showed no lesions, tears or injuries to the alleged victim.

The judge also found in her ruling that the forensic evidence did not support the crown’s case. She said that although some of the accused’s blood was found in the van on a coil of electrical wire, Ebanks had admitted stealing from the van the previous evening and had dropped the coil on his shin, opening up a wound he had sustained that day. There was no other DNA in the van belonging to the defendant, despite the fact that the complainant had said his attacker did not use a condom.

The complainant’s DNA was, however, found in the van and on a tissue from the van mixed with another unknown person’s DNA but not that of the accused. Nor was any of the accuser’s DNA found on the complainant’s clothes or vice versa, despite the alleged close proximity of the assault and the arrest of Ebanks hours after the alleged attack. DNA found on the accused’s clothes was that of a female, and during his defence Ebanks had consistently stated that he was with two women and another male friend when the complainant said the rape had taken place.

According to the complainant, as he walked along a road in West Bay that night he was stopped by his attacker who threatened to hurt him unless he helped him moved some stolen tools in the garage on the road. The complainant said he felt something metal on his neck and believed all through the attack that the rapist had a gun. This, he said, was why he never attempted to run away, even though they had both had to climb over a fence to get to the garage and that during the alleged rape the attacker was not actually holding a weapon.

The defendant had persistently denied the allegation, stating that he was drinking with his three friends on the night in question but had been at the garage the night before, where he did steal a drill. He said the only time he was alone on the night of the allegation was when he walked to an address in Birch Tree Hill, where he purchased crack cocaine.

Both Ebanks and the accused had taken the stand during the three day trial and both men’s previous convictions had been aired in the court, calling into question both men’s character and credibility, the judge explained, and although she said that someone’s bad character did not necessarily mean a person would lie and although it was strange that the complainant would make up such a detailed rape, she did not think his account was credible.

Taking everything together, as the case boiled down to word of mouth, the judge stated, and given that the scientific evidence leant more support to Ebanks’ assertion that he did not commit the rape, she handed down the not guilty verdict.
 

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