St Albans man accused in ‘stranger rape’ case

A teenage girl has told a jury how she got into a car with a stranger from St Albans who then raped her after telling her he would give her a lift home.

She said that after pulling up in front of a garage block in Hemel Hempstead, the man told her to get onto the back seat where he joined her and then had sex with her against her will.

The girl, who was 17 at the time, was giving evidence at St Albans Crown Court where restaurant worker Roziur Choudhury, of Drakes Drive, St Albans, 40, pleads not guilty to raping her.

Sally Mealing-McLeod, prosecuting, told the jury: “This offence is described as a stranger rape because they weren’t known to each other at all.”

She said there was no dispute over identity or that they had sex but the issue was whether the teenager had consented to sex or had instigated it.

The court heard how on the evening of October 26 last year the girl and a friend went to the cinema on the Jarman’s Park leisure complex in Hemel Hempstead, leaving at around 11pm.

As the girl’s friend lived on the other side of town, the prosecutor said the victim agreed to accompany her for part of the way and walked beside a dual carriageway towards the Hemel town centre.

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At a roundabout the girls had a cigarette and chatted for 10 minutes before parting to walk to their homes.

The jury heard that for the alleged victim it meant retracing her steps and walking back along the dual carriageway in the direction of the leisure park

Miss Mealing McLeod said the girl was walking past the Royal Mail Sorting Office when she saw a silver Vauxhall Corsa pull up in front of her and stop in a lay-by.

The girl sent a text message to the friend she had just left saying, ‘Someone’s pulled over’ and the friend jokingly replied, ‘Don’t have sex’.

The defendant was behind the wheel of the car and as the teenager walked past he asked if she wanted a lift.

The girl declined but the jury was told Mr Choudhury persisted by trying to engage her in conversation and repeating his offer of a lift.

Miss Mealing-McLeod went on: “She refused but was persuaded or forced to get into the car believing she would be dropped off.”

The prosecutor said the girl got the impression the driver was not familiar with the controls and operation of the car and in fact it later turned out that the car was not his own but a hire vehicle.

Inside the car, said Miss Mealing McLeod, the girl told the driver to drop her off in the Adeyfield area of Hemel Hempstead.

But after turning into Longlands he pulled up by some garages on the Adeyfield estate, turned off the lights and switched off the ignition.

Miss Mealing-McLeod said he started telling her how beautiful she was and then asked her to get into the back seat. She refused saying she wanted to go home and by then was feeling “scared and vulnerable”, the court was told.

Mr Choudhury got out of the car and opened a rear door telling her to get in which she eventually did. He joined her and they went on to have full sex even though the girl was in a state of shock and fear.

Miss Mealing-McLeod told the jury: “All the time she was saying, ‘No... stop... I want to go home.’

“He put his hand over her mouth and told her how beautiful she was.”

Afterwards the court heard the girl got dressed and walked off in a state of shock to the home of a friend.

The police were contacted and in the small hours of that night the girl was medically examined.

The jury heard how that around 11pm the following night a police officer in an unmarked car in Two Waters Road, Hemel Hempstead, saw a silver Vauxhall Corsa which he thought matched the description of the car the girl had given to his colleagues the night before. He followed the car for a short distance before arresting Mr Choudhury.

He too was medically examined that night and it was discovered he had shaved his pubic hair just hours before and cut his fingernails short.

Miss Mealing-McLeod said: “He was interviewed and said he had been flagged down by the girl and offered her a lift home. He said when he stopped she had forced herself on him and effectively raped him.

The prosecutor said Mr Choudhury told the police that after sex was over the girl had told him, “Thank you very much.”

The case is continuing.