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Derek Achong

A 50-year-old man from New Grant has been freed of raping a teenage villager over 16 years ago.

Delivering a judgment virtually yesterday afternoon, Appellate Judges Alice Yorke- Soo Hon, Mark Mohammed and Maria Wilson quashed Mukesh “Legs” Ganpat’s conviction as they ruled that the judge, who presided over his trial and sentenced him to 14 and a half years in prison, made errors in his case.

The father of three’s appeal centred around a partial confession, which police claimed Ganpat gave them when he was confronted with the allegation in front of his wife, who uses a wheelchair.

While Ganpat and his wife, who testified in his defence in his trial, claimed that he denied any wrongdoing, police claimed that he admitted to “feeling up” the 18-year-old but said that they did not have sex.

Yorke-Soo Hon, who read the judgment, noted that Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas failed to advised the jury that although there was no evidence that the police had a motive to frame Ganpat, this did not mean that they were automatically telling the truth about the statement.

While she said that the police officers failed to properly record the statement, she noted that there were records of Ganpat repeating the statement while being detained at the Tableland Police Station.

She also stated that St Clair-Douglas failed to properly advised the jury that Ganpat could have been tricked or coerced into signing the station diary although he admitted that he wasn’t beaten or induced

Yorke-Soo Hon also said that the judge also allowed irrelevant evidence on the victim’s sexual history ie she lost her virginity six weeks before the alleged attack.

She also rejected the suggestion that the jury would have convicted Ganpat based on the evidence, even without the errors.

In deciding whether Ganpat should face a retrial, the appeal panel considered a number of factors including the costs associated with the retrial, the fact that the incident occured in June 2004, and the strength of the prosecution’s case.

“The prosecution’s case can hardly be described as strong or overwhelming,” Yorke-Soo Hon said, as they decided against a retrial and ordered Ganpat’s release.

According to the evidence in the case, the victim claimed that she was standing at the side of the road waiting on a taxi to take her home when Ganpat, who she knew for several years and took drops with several times in the past, stopped and offered her a ride.

She claimed that Ganpat told her that he was going to pick up another villager to go to a wake before dropping her off.

She claimed that when they arrived at the neighbour’s house, he lured her inside and forced her to have sex.

Testifying in his defence, Ganpat admitted that he offered her a ride but claimed that she had flirted with him in the past.

He claimed that while at the neighbour’s home, she attempted to kiss him but he stopped her

He said that she began to curse him and demanded $40 for her time. He said when he refused, she left.

Ganpat was represented by Rajiv Persad and Christophe Rodriguez, while Travers Sinanan represented the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).