Sexual assault appeal rejected

A 22-year-old student jailed for performing sexual acts on a teenage girl he had agreed to drive home has claimed he suffered a miscarriage of justice because his lawyer wouldn't let him take the stand. 

In July 2009, AUT University student Ali Ghotbi, a devout Muslim, was with a prostitute he had arranged to meet on Liverpool St, near Auckland's Karangahape Rd, when he came across his 15-year-old victim.

According to a recent Court of Appeal decision, the teenager had been denied entry to a birthday party because of her age and had caught a cab to the intersection of Queen St and K' Rd - getting out because she had run out of phone credit and didn't have the estimated $100 needed to get back to Manurewa.

The teenager said Ghotbi offered to drive her home, but instead drove elsewhere. Shortly afterwards the prostitute got out of his car, and she moved to the front seat following threats from him.

While driving her down the Southern motorway towards Manurewa, Ghotbi began touching her legs. Against her resistance, the decision reads, Ghotbi began pulling at her underwear and touching her crotch. He also made her touch his. 

The teenager directed Ghotbi to a party near where she lived and used the opportunity to escape. 

Ghotbi was later arrested and told police the sexual contact was consensual and was agreed to in exchange for transport.

Giving evidence via video link from Springhill Prison, Ghotbi argued his trial counsel had gone against his wishes to take to the stand.

His trial lawyer told the Court of Appeal that Ghotbi had advised him he didn't want to give evidence and he believed his client wouldn't be a good witness as he was ''unrepented'' and had a ''somewhat arrogant'' attitude towards the victim. 

Court transcripts confirmed proceedings had stopped after the Crown presented its case so instructions could be taken from Ghotbi - a meeting he claimed never took place.

The appeals court agreed Ghotbi would not have been a good witness. 

''His explanation for why a previously unknown 15 year old would within a few minutes of meeting volunteer sexual services in exchange for a car ride defies credibility,'' the decision reads.

''His account of her allegedly amorous overtures is highly implausible - not only in its tone but also in its detail.''

The judges found a miscarriage of justice had not occurred and rejected the appeal.    

Auckland Now