Autistic man wrongfully convicted of rape, spent 2 years in prison

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

    May 15, 2017
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    An autistic man wrongfully convicted of raping a woman has spoken about his living hell.

    Aaron Farmer, 41, was found guilty of raping a 22-year-old woman in a Christchurch street in 2005.

    He was sentenced to eight years in prison, but the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction in 2007. Shortly afterwards, new DNA tests excluded Mr. Farmer as the attacker.

    The sickness beneficiary was charged with rape after the victim picked him out of a photo montage. She told police her attacker approached her on a motorbike, and Mr. Farmer happened to be riding around the city on his own at the same time.

    The Court of Appeal criticised a detective who handled the case, saying he gave Mr. Farmer the impression that DNA evidence implicated him in the rape when it did not.

    The officer, who was widely criticised by the courts and his superiors, is no longer working as a detective, but is still working for the police in Wellington. He did not return calls yesterday.

    Mr. Farmer's trial lawyer Tim Fournier was also criticised for his handling of the case. The Court of Appeal ruled that the jury did not get to hear important alibi evidence that may have swung the verdict. Mr. Fournier also failed to return calls.

    Mr Farmer said he felt "screwed over". "I'm angry about quite a few things. The police outright pursued me when they had no evidence and I still got locked up. The police screwed me over. I'll pretty much be angry forever."

    He said sitting through a trial, being found guilty and then going to prison for a crime he did not commit was "like hell".

    "I was in shock for a few days, I just couldn't believe it. I can understand if you're done for something stupid, something you've done. But when it's for something like that and you haven't done it - it doesn't feel good."

    Mr. Farmer said he stopped talking completely when he went to prison, frustrated that no one was listening to him. He said things "weren't working out" so he just stopped speaking.

    "It wasn't that hard," he said.

    During his silence, he wrote to the Court of Appeal protesting his innocence.

    Back home in Feilding his mother Bev was also writing to politicians and authorities begging for help.

    That led to the appeal, and a written apology from the Government for her son's conviction.

    "It never should have come to this. There were so many things that were wrong. He had an alibi," Mr. Shamy said. "The devil is in the detail ... the jury is an amazing machine, but it can only deal with what it is told." ​

    This isn't as uncommon as some people think. Women misidentifying their attacker. Some of it's psychological, police create a lineup of five people and the woman is told to select the rapist. Naturally there's going to be a subconscious inclination to select the man who looks most like the man who attacked her. Human memory can be surprisingly unreliable. It can be hard for people to remember exactly what a man looked like, especially when that one encounter was during a traumatic and scary experience. Then when they see someone else whom they believe is the rapist, their mind replaces the details in their memory without them realizing it.

    It also shows how a public defender can fail their accused client if they're not properly prepared. In this case it looks like the jury didn't even get to hear that there was an alibi.

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