A judge beat up the police and prosecutors after it took a jury less than 30 minutes to acquit a corporate attorney accused of groping a woman on a flight from Dubai to Manchester.
Arjmand Ghafoor, 35, was found not guilty of two sexual assaults on Friday afternoon after a trial in Manchester Crown Court.
Mr Ghafoor from Birmingham, standing next to his wife after his eviction, said: “It was devastating to me and my family, my wife and children.”
The corporate attorney, who was not eligible for legal aid, had to spend tens of thousands on legal fees to clear his name after a police investigation and subsequent prosecution that was beaten up by the trial judge.
The jury was sent out to review their verdicts Friday afternoon and returned to deliver innocent convictions on the defendant’s two sexual assaults after less than 30 minutes of deliberation.
Judge Anthony Cross QC suggested police and prosecutors for failing to confirm Mr Ghafoor’s accuser by questioning other passengers sitting in adjacent rows.
(Image: Manchester Evening News)
He thanked the jury for their deliberation and informed them that in such cases evidence would be collected and presented to a custody sergeant who, if unable to make a decision, will call a Crown Public Prosecutor (CPS) attorney to ask them to consider whether there is enough evidence to be charged.
If there isn’t enough evidence, the suspect could be “released under investigation” while more information is gathered, he said.
The investigation release was a “new cause that has caused a lot of injustice,” said Judge Cross, who urged the jury to “Google it.”
He continued, “At that time, the CPS was telling the police in general that we were going to put in place a plan of action and that was going to be an instruction to collect more evidence as it became available. Here I would have thought … it could go to the To the passengers in the front and to the passengers in the back. “
He told the jury that they might have learned how close people are to each other on flights, adding, “In general, the person in front of and behind them is best placed, especially if someone is suspected to have groped … What about the person across the aisle? “What about stewards? Nothing, nothing was done. Imagine it was a relative of yours. “
The judge said the jury expected further investigation to be conducted, but “nothing was done” in this case.
“It is not right,” he said, adding that the defendant had waited two and a half years for trial, was not entitled to legal aid, and that the law did not entitle him to reclaim the cost of his defense unless he decides that the CPS has made a mistake.
(Image: Manchester Evening News)
“I’ll make an inquiry as to whether or not he should get his bills back.”
Judge Cross told jury that he had asked the CPS midway through the trial to re-examine their case after one of their own witnesses, a stewardess, presented evidence that “did not support their case.”
“You have decided to move on and here we are,” said the judge.
After the hearing, Mr Ghafoor said to the MEN, “I am just very grateful that you made the right decision. I am grateful to the jury for examining all the evidence correctly and grateful for their duty.”
His QC Kate Blackwell said: “This is a case that should never have reached the Crown Court and despite repeated attempts to convince the Crown Prosecutor to examine their chances of success in the face of a lack of evidence.
“It is amazing that no lawyer found it appropriate to withdraw the case before it was brought to the jury.
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“It is impossible to exaggerate the effect that a criminal offense charge can have on someone, and despite the innocent convictions, the defendant can feel the effects of this case for many years to come.”
The trial heard that Mr. Ghafoor was sitting in the window seat when the woman realized he was “quite excited” during a December 2018 flight.
When she tried to read her book, he “touched” the outside of her leg before grabbing her inner thigh.
Mr Ghafoor is said to have said to the woman: “If you think my behavior is inappropriate, please tell me.”
He previously told her that he was a lawyer working in Dubai and was returning to the UK to get married.
The woman’s partner, who was sitting next to her, did not know what had happened when he saw a movie, the court was told.
After speaking to the cabin crew, she was moved to another location, the jury heard.
She said she didn’t want to tell her partner because she “didn’t know how he was going to react,” the court heard.
Mr Ghafoor was arrested after the plane landed at Manchester Airport.
He denied touching the woman, drinking or being “upset,” the court heard.
Mr Ghafoor said he was asleep and the seats next to him were empty when he woke up.
The woman gave evidence and said, “He was excited, quite hostile, very nervous, and he had his phone out.”
“He didn’t seem right.
“He went to the bathroom for about twenty minutes and people knocked on the door.
“He returned to his seat and I was so worried that I couldn’t read my book – I was so worried that I couldn’t.”
Mr. Ghafoor of Cheapside, Deritend, denied two sexual assault offenses. The jury found him not guilty.