Author: Iwan Gabe Davies
AN ERITREAN soldier was jailed for five years after a jury found him guilty of the attempted rape of an unconscious woman following a house party.
Radiet Meles, aged 27, of Potter Street, Newport, committed the sex attack in the city last summer.
He was cleared of rape but convicted by the jury of four men and eight women of attempted rape after a five-day trial at Cardiff Crown Court.
Judge Christopher Vosper QC told him it is almost inevitable he will deported by the home secretary after being released from custody.
Heath Edwards, prosecuting, told the jury: “During Monday, August 13, 2018, the complainant went into Newport city centre drinking.”
They heard how she and others made their way back to a house where a party was held.
Mr Edwards said: “The complainant herself has little clear recollection of the events or the chronology at this time as she was heavily intoxicated.
“The next memory she has of the events that night is of her being awoken in the back of an ambulance by a police officer and being told that the defendant had been having sex with her.
“That was not something that she had consented to – she was far too drunk for that.”
Meles had pleaded not guilty to both charges and his defence was that he did not have any form of sexual intercourse with her.
Eugene Egan said in mitigation after the verdict: “The defendant has little or next to little English and is far away from home. Prison will be a burdensome experience for him.”
Meles, who used the aid of an interpreter in the Tigrinya language throughout the trial, was asked by his barrister to tell the jury about his background when he gave evidence in his defence.
He said he was born in Eritrea and came to the UK “in a lorry” in 2015 after travelling from France via the Channel Tunnel.
Meles told of how he was detained in Dover for two days before he was released and arrived in Cardiff before settling in Newport.
The jury heard how he worked at a food packaging factory in the city and had previously had jobs with Amazon and as a car washer.
Before jailing him, Judge Vosper told Meles: “You saw that the victim was heavily intoxicated and, to all intents and purposes, she was unconscious.
“You had formed an intention to take advantage of her if you could.”
The judge added: “After your release, it is likely you will be held in an immigration detention centre.
“As a consequence of this offence and sentence, the home secretary is likely to make a deportation order in your case.”