The trail of Mr Raj Thapa concluded in the Supreme Court on Thursday 8th April 2020. The jury took around an hour to deliver their verdict of guilty after hearing evidence in a two and half day trial. Mr Raj Thapa had pleaded NOT guilty to the charge of sexual assault which had occurred in December last year. Crown Counsel, Mr Stuart Walker, described to the court how Mr Thapa had assaulted the woman whilst she had slept. An audio recording of a telephone call the following day had been played where the court then heard Mr Thapa’s voice apologising for what had occurred, although he did not concede to assaulting the complainant.
Mr Damian Sabino, for the defence, said that Mr Thappa had gone to check on the complainant, but had fallen asleep beside her and had woken when the complainant had moved his hand away. He claimed that the assault was unintentional and had occurred whilst he too had been asleep. Mr Thappa had been unaware that the phone call had been recorded and had stated 12 or 13 times that he hadn’t done anything intentionally.
In closing speeches, Mr Walker said that it was too much to expect the jury to believe Mr Thappa had acted in a sleep like trance, when, by his own admission, he had no history of sleepwalking.
The jury found Mr Thappa guilty and he was released on conditional bail and will return to court for sentencing at a later date.
Raj Thapa appeared before acting Judge Mrs Sarah Whitby to be sentenced after a 4 day trial found him guilty last month.
The court heard how on the 14th of December last year he sexually assaulted his victim while she slept. Prosecuting Mr Stuart Walker described the incident to the court and read out a victim impact statement where the victim had explained that she was “not the same person she was before this incident” and that she now suffers from mental health issues, adding that “something very personal was taken away from me.”
Defence lawyer Mr Damian Sabino appeared by video link and said that Mr Thapa maintained his innocence in this case and was of previous good character, adding that he supported his wife and young child in Nepal who were now suffering as a result of him losing his income.
Acting judge Mrs Sarah Whitby said that Mr Thapa abused the trust his victim had in him and caused serious harm to her. Mrs Whitby said that the aggravating and mitigating factors in this case cancelled each other out.
Mr Thapa was sentenced to two years in custody and was also given a 10 year notification order.