Man wrongly jailed for rape walks free
He spent 16 months in jail for a rape he didn't commit.
But Melbourne man Farah Jama, 22, always believed the truth
"I know that the truth always will come out. Everybody will see
that I am innocent," he told reporters after Victoria's Court of
Appeal quashed his conviction on Monday.
Jama was convicted last year on DNA evidence for allegedly
raping a 48-year-old woman who was found semi-conscious in
a toilet cubicle at an over 28's nightclub.
He maintained his innocence, saying he was at his critically ill father's bedside reciting prayers when the rape was said to have occurred.
The woman could not remember the crime.
Jama was jailed for six years but served 16 months before the Court of Appeal acquitted him and set his sentence aside after a bungling of DNA evidence linking him to the crime.
The court heard Jama's DNA was analysed at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre for an unrelated matter for which he was never charged.
A day later, the same scientist who analysed his DNA also analysed the rape complainant's DNA.
The crown conceded the DNA evidence may have been contaminated and there may not have even been a crime.
Jama's lawyer Kimani Adil Boden hailed it a momentous day in a tragic case.
"Justice has finally been done, however, at a price," he told reporters at his inner Melbourne law firm.
Mr Boden said DNA evidence was powerful but juries needed to be told that mistakes could happen.
He said Jama was traumatised by his ordeal and was considering making a compensation claim.
Jama described his experience as "very, very bad".
"I feel really depressed and cannot imagine it, what happened," he said.
"I feel really angry and depressed."
He said his family supported him throughout his ordeal and he planned to celebrate his victory.
He also thanked his lawyer for having faith in him and said he would try and start his life afresh.
The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine is urgently reviewing the case.
Victoria Police has welcomed the review, saying in a statement it is an "unfortunate one-off event and we do not believe this has happened elsewhere".
Last year, police were forced to drop charges against a man accused of the 1984 double murder of a mother and daughter when DNA evidence was found to be worthless.
Jama was bailed last month pending investigations into the possible bungling of his case.
Opposition police spokesman Peter Ryan described the case as an "appalling state of affairs" and called into question the reliability of DNA evidence used in the courts.
"Events surrounding Mr Jama are a stain upon the justice system in Victoria," he told reporters.
"The fear is, of course, that in the court system we have evidence being called which is not properly based, now this goes to the very core of our justice system."
Mr Ryan blamed under-resourcing and said the blunder would lead to more challenges against criminal convictions.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Jeremy Rapke, QC, has ordered a review of all cases over the past five years following doubts about the reliability of DNA tests.
The Jama acquittal comes as the Victorian ombudsman is due to report to state parliament this week on major malpractice at a police forensic laboratory.