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Refugee former church leader and father-of-eight appeals conviction for raping young choir girls

Refugee former church leader and father-of-eight appeals conviction for raping young choir girls

  • Shartiel Nibigira jailed for 11 years after found guilty of rape and indecent assault
  • The father-of-eight committed some offences at a house during choir practice
  • Appeal Court heard victim’s testimony should have caused reasonable doubt
  • Appeal Court judges have reserved their decision until a date yet to be decided 

A former church leader has appealed his conviction and sentence for raping and indecently assaulting young choir members.

Shartiel Nibigira was sentenced to 11 years in jail after being found guilty on 21 charges.

The father-of-eight committed the offences at a house during choir practice, or while the girls were transported for practices or church events, the Brisbane District Court trial heard in 2019.

A former church leader has appealed his conviction and sentence for raping and indecently assaulting young choir members (stock image)

A former church leader has appealed his conviction and sentence for raping and indecently assaulting young choir members (stock image)

A jury found Nibigira guilty of raping and indecently touching one girl at least eight times in 2011 and 2012, when she was aged between nine and 11.

Her testimony relating to penetration and the vehicle in which the offending occurred should have caused the jury to have reasonable doubt about her evidence, the Queensland Court of Appeal was told on Thursday.

But crown prosecutor David Nardone said the young girl gave succinct detail about what occurred, while speaking about the events ‘in a very naive or innocent way’.

‘The level of clarity and precision in which she gave her evidence would overwhelm any confusion about where the offence took place,’ he added.

Mr Nardone told the court the girl’s evidence was corroborated to some degree by her parents as the pain she suffered from the offending impacted on her ability to walk properly.

Nibigira also raped a second girl in a bathroom during choir practice and indecently assaulted her at another time.

About a week after the rape he gave the girl $20 in an attempt to buy her silence.

Nibigira told the Appeal Court on Thursday two audio recordings of conversations between himself and other people should have been considered during the trial.

During his earlier sentencing the court heard Nibigira lived in poverty before fleeing Burundi to seek refuge in Tanzania in 1997.

His parents and siblings were killed during the escape.

Nibigira lived in a refugee camp for 10 years before coming to Australia in 2007.

The Appeal Court judges have reserved their decision until a date yet to be decided.


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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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