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Belfast sex attack accused Bamu denies city centre assault

By Michael Donnelly

Published 08/11/2016

A man has gone on trial accused of seriously sexually assaulting a woman last year in Belfast city centre
A man has gone on trial accused of seriously sexually assaulting a woman last year in Belfast city centre
Accused: Pondai Bamu

A man has gone on trial accused of seriously sexually assaulting a woman last year in Belfast city centre.

Pondai Bamu, with an address in Johnstone Mews, Newcastle Upon Tyne in England, denies attacking the woman in a shop doorway on September 24, 2015 as she waited for a lift home from her boyfriend.

Prosecution counsel Rosemary McCormick QC told Belfast Crown Court that Bamu admitted being with the girl, but claimed anything that occurred had been consensual.

The jury also heard that while Bamu, who is originally from Zimbabwe, also admitted running away when the woman's boyfriend showed up, he did so out of fear he would be attacked.

Ms McCormick said the woman had been out drinking with two friends, but they became separated in the early hours of the morning.

The alleged victim was found by a 'good samaritan' sitting in High Street beside Dunnes Stores, not far from McDonald's restaurant, the contents of her handbag lying around her.

"It was clear to him that this young woman was extremely drunk," said the lawyer.

He helped her phone her mother and her boyfriend, but attempts to get her a taxi failed.

At some stage he was joined by Bamu, a work colleague, who suggested they take her to the other man's home, but he declined. Ms McCormick said while the two men initially headed to a nearby McDonald's for food, Bamu left his colleague and was seen on CCTV heading back towards where the woman had been.

"It is the prosecution case, he went to find her," she said.

The lawyer said the woman's recollection of what happened "is shaky". The lawyer added: "Clearly she was a very drunk young woman."

The woman managed to talk to her boyfriend on the phone, telling him a "weird man was following her". CCTV from the area showed the woman running barefoot, followed by Bamu, who allegedly caught up with her in the shop doorway.

Ms McCormick said Bamu sexually assaulted the woman in a doorway before forcing her to perform a sex act on him.

The court heard she "resisted and screamed for help'' as well as biting him on the genitals.

Ms McCormick told the jury that after parking his car in Chichester Street, the woman's boyfriend went looking for her in High Street.

But after being unable to find her there, he heard her screams, and, recognising her voice, followed it. In nearby Rosemary Street he saw her on the ground, and ran towards her while shouting at a man with her. The man ran off in the direction of Royal Avenue.

Bamu was arrested two months later in England. During police interviews, Bamu said he had gone to Newcastle to look for work as the company he worked for in Belfast was shedding jobs.

Bamu told police he had talked to the woman, but said that anything that happened "was her idea".

He also claimed when confronted by a man shouting "dead man running... he was frightened he would be beaten up", and ran off. At hearing.

Belfast Telegraph

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