9 November 2015
The High Court heard today that a 25-year-old man from an African country was trying to rape a 63-year-old woman in a back lane in Kowloon City
The Guinean man, Ali Keita, denied one count of attempted rape. On 9 January this year, he was accused of attempting to rape the 63-year-old woman, identified as Madam X to protect her privacy, while she was collecting cardboard near the backdoor of a supermarket in a back lane between Mok Cheong Street and Sung Wong Toi Road in Kowloon City.
Madam X was a married woman with two grown-up children. Since 2006, her husband had been staying in hospital to receive treatment because of a chronic illness. In order to sustain her living, she received comprehensive social security assistance and had been collecting cardboard regularly for the past five years.
The prosecutor Michael Arthur mentioned in the opening statement that the defendant was 37 years younger than Madam X at the time of offence. He was also 42 centimetres taller than her and 25 kilograms heavier than her.
On the night of 9 January, Madam X went for collecting cardboard in a back lane as usual. Madam X suddenly realised the presence of Keita. At that time, there were only two of them in the lane. Keita forced Madam X to the ground, took off her trousers and attempted to rape her. The incident was recorded by a surveillance camera installed at the back lane.
Madam X shouted for help and a passer-by called the police. Arthur said Madam X told the paramedics and police that she was sexually assaulted.
A doctor examined her injuries in hospital and found that different parts of her body were hurt. Her eyes were bleeding and her neck was reddened. Also, she got bruise on her jaw and suffered four injuries to her private parts.
While Keita was waiting the arrival of police, he was seen burning cardboard in the back lane by the paramedics. He was subsequently arrested on the same day. In a recorded interview at the police station after a day the incident happened, he admitted to police that he was drinking beer before seeing Madam X, and claimed that Madam X took his bag and attacked his back with a stick.
Keita denied that he was attempting to rape her or pushing her to the ground. He said Madam X passed the bag she had taken from him to another man. The man subsequently escaped from the scene. Keita claimed that she did not notice the age of Madam X. He was afraid of her because of her strong reaction when she was asked to return his bag.
Madam X told the court behind a screen that she visited his husband for the second time at around 6pm. She said she went to the back lane off Sung Wong Toi Road to collect cardboard after the visit. She said she saw a black man at the lane burning plastic bubble wrap at a position not far from her.
She said she did not approach him and walked in the opposite direction from him. She said she intended to take her shopping bag and go to the supermarket for buying condensed milk. However, she said he walked near her and put his hand into his private part. She thought that he was urinating against the wall near the backdoor of the supermarket.
The jury selection was taken place in the morning. Four males and three females were chosen to form a jury. But one of the male jurors was allowed by the judge to withdraw from the proceedings. The judge Mr Justice Tong Po-sun said that all jurors were under legal protection and his employer might be liable to prosecution. He said he would send a letter to his employer and consider transferring the case to Department of Justice for further action.
According to Jury Ordinance, the charge of an employer discriminating against employee by reason of jury service carries a maximum penalty of $25,000 fine and three-month imprisonment.
The trial continues tomorrow.