003/Haf

Justice served on rapist who fled the UK to avoid trial

23/06/2011

Jail sentence for rapist who went on the run

An asylum seeker who tried to escape justice and fled the UK after raping a woman in a Liverpool city centre hostel, has been sentenced to six years imprisonment at Liverpool Crown Court

Amrullah Hafizi, now aged 22, attacked the women while she slept in his flat, after they had spent the evening socialising with friends in August 2009.

The victim managed to escape and immediately reported the offence. She was brought to a local Sexual Assault Referral Centre and underwent a full forensic examination.

Initial police enquiries pointed to Hafizi and he was arrested on suspicion of rape. In interview he denied any sexual contact had taken place and was bailed pending further investigation. However once the results of forensic tests were available there was evidence to prove that the defendant had been sexually involved with the complainant..

Before Hafizi could be arrested and formally charged, he fled the country and was eventually traced to a hostel in Sicily, Italy, in November 2010.

Prosecutors and police worked with Italian authorities to have him returned to the UK to stand trial and in January 2011 he was deported from Italy.

Janet Potter, Merseyside CPS District Crown Prosecutor and rape specialist in the Unity team said: "Throughout this case Hafizi continued to deny any wrongdoing, despite overwhelming evidence against him. He even tried to escape his crime by fleeing the  UK, but the authorities caught up with him and brought him to justice.

"I must commend the victim in this case who, despite waiting a long time for her attacker to be brought before the courts, was still prepared to give evidence. We made sure she appeared via a video link to avoid the ordeal of being face-to-face with Hafizi."

Mrs Potter added: "The message is that the prosecution team will do everything in our power to bring offenders to justice, as well as ensuring that victims of crime are given every support throughout the case."

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For more information contact Sharon King, communications manager, on 0151 239 6465.

 

Notes to editors:

The Unity Team involves specialist rape investigators from Merseyside Police permanently working side by side in the same dedicated team as expert rape lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service.

The success of the team means that sensitive allegations of rape and sexual assault will be dealt with more quickly, efficiently and to the highest standard with faster turnaround times for cases to be put before the court thanks to expert legal advice being on hand for detectives to make use of.

The team of experts from CPS Merseyside on the Unity team share a vast experience of prosecutions, as well as the ability to treat each case with the care and attention it needs.

Merseyside CPS has assigned three rape specialist prosecutors, supported by two dedicated paralegal officers, who work with the police from the moment an offence is reported.

Their initial priorities are to offer advice to the police on what evidence might be required, as well as on what lines of enquiry to pursue to ensure that together the Unity team can build the strongest case possible.

When cases are assessed, CPS experts apply legal tests to ensure decisions are fair and consistent. Firstly they have to decide whether there is enough evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and, if so, they then decide if the case is in the public interest. This is called the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

Once prosecutors are confident in the evidence and information they have, they will then take things to the next level, getting the case ready for court and working closely with barristers who will present it.

The CPS team will also do all they can to support victims and witnesses. One crucial way is to offer special measures for a victim for example they can apply to give their evidence behind screens to avoid facing the defendant in a court room. Victims can also meet with the prosecution team during and following a case to discuss the procedures and out