Group jailed for raping 16-year-old ask for new trial
FOUR men jailed over the brutal gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in an isolated North Queensland canefield have asked the Queensland Court of Appeal for a new trial.
Aaron Anau, Tom Ingui, Francis Peter and Jeffrey Banu were jailed in May last year for gang raping the teenage girl after they offered to give her a lift on a night out in December 2017.
The teenager woke to find Anau raping her in the boot of the car and when she tried to run away across a canefield, she was grabbed and dragged back to the car and dropped in Cairns CBD.
A jury found the men guilty after an 11-day trial and Anau, Ingui and Peter were sentenced to 10 years’ jail.
Banu was jailed for 7 years as he was only found to be present during the ordeal, but did not rape the girl.
Legal representatives for the four men appeared in the Queensland Court of Appeal on Monday, appealing each of their convictions and asking for a new trial.
Banu and Ingui are also appealing their sentences.
The men’s defence barristers claimed potential jury bias and issues with the victim’s statement as grounds for appeal.
Ingui’s barrister Benjamin Power said there were “significant issues” with the victim’s first statement to police including that she had falsely alleged her ex-boyfriend had been one of the men who raped her.
The court was also told that during the trial, a juror alleged that he had heard intimidating comments directed towards him by one of the men on trial.
The juror was discharged but the defence team questioned if the other jurors would have been biased if he had shared the comments with them.
“There is actually no evidence that he spoke to any of the jurors about that …” Crown prosecutor Dzenita Balic said.
But Court of Appeal President Walter Sofronoff responded, “If a person like that stays with the other uninfected jury members for the next four days of the trial, does that not have an effect upon the qualification of that jury to continue trying this matter?”
The barrister for Banu, who drove the car that night, argued that his client’s conviction was an unreasonable verdict because there was no clear evidence that he had intended to aid the men.
The Court of Appeal reserved its decision. – NewsRegional