Bare Roots rape trial … Accused takes stand as conclusion nears
By Latoya Giles
Rape accused Devon McFarlane called ‘Kang’ testified yesterday that he did not rape the security guard who has leveled the accusation against him. McFarlane, who is represented by Attorney Ronald Burch-Smith, is charged with raping a mother of three as she walked to her home in Bare Roots, East Coast Demerara, in the wee hours of January 11, 2009, having worked the 4:00 pm to midnight shift.
The accused was called upon to lead a defence by Justice Roxanne George, who had earlier overruled no-case submissions made on his behalf. The Judge gave the accused three options: remain silent, make an unsworn statement from the dock or take the witness stand and give sworn testimony. He opted to take the witness stand.
The accused, a father of three children, ages 6, 3 and 1 year-old, testified that on the night in question, he was at home with his wife and children and maintained that he did not rape the Virtual Complainant (VC).
He claimed that on the morning of January 11, 2009, he was standing on a bridge with a friend when a police vehicle came up and an officer told them not to move. He was then asked to point out where he lived and he was taken by two officers, including Constable Tirat, to his home where they conducted a search for a white hat and a gun. They found no weapon, but they found a white hat which belonged to his wife and could not fit his head.
The accused said he and his friend were arrested and placed in the lock-ups at Vigilance Police Station. Shortly after, a “tall” police officer said to him, “Rasta Man, let me see yuh penis,” and he was wondering if the officer was “gay” but then the policeman said that the woman had claimed she was raped by a man who had beads in his penis. He said he showed the officer his penis.
The following day, he was taken to Court, and that was when he first learnt of the allegation being made against him.
However, when cross-examined by State Counsel Renita Singh, who is associated with Judith Gildharie-Mursalin, the accused admitted that on the day of his arrest, he was told of the charge against him by Constable Tirat and he had denied same, indicating that he was a married man.
He was cross-examined as to his not telling the police he was home with his wife that night and neither did he tell the Magistrate before whom he had first given evidence. The accused, who said he could not read the depositions, accepted from Justice George that such evidence was not recorded there as him having told the Magistrate that.
The accused, who claimed he was working in the interior at that time, and is now employed at Puran’s sawmill at Non Pareil, said by way of explanation, that Tirat never asked him if he was home with his wife, causing the Prosecutor to put to him that Tirat never asked him if he was married, but he volunteered that information and similarly, he could have said he was at home. She also put to him that he was now making up this evidence for the first time since his arrest, but he denied this, and claimed he had told the Magistrate so. However, it was not in his depositions.
McFarlane admitted he was wearing his wedding ring at the said time, but denied that a confrontation was held by the police between him and the VC, where she had told him that he stuck her up with a gun and raped her and he was wearing his wedding ring. The VC and Constable Tirat had earlier testified about this confrontation.
The accused also said he had known the VC from the area and that he would say “good morning and good afternoon” to her. He also knew the woman’s husband, a soldier, as they would drink together and he had visited their home for their wedding anniversary celebrations. The VC’s husband had testified to this earlier.
Following his testimony, the wife of the accused, Shenisha McFarlane, testified that he was at home with her on the night in question. She said that at that time, her baby was five months old and she would get up during the nights to breastfeed him and she would wake up her husband each time she did so, so he could “keep her company.” On that particular night, she said she woke up sometime after 10:00pm, 12 midnight, and again after 2:00am. Each time she woke up, her husband was there. In answer to the jury, she said it would not have been possible for her husband to leave their home between midnight and 2:00am as she is a light sleeper and the door makes a noise whenever it is opened.
The witness claimed she was not called by her husband’s lawyer to testify in the Magistrates’ Court even though she was there on each occasion the case was called up. She also said the police had asked her where he was at the time of the rape and she had indicated that he was at home with her, but they never requested a written statement from her to that effect.
When cross-examined by the Prosecutor, the witness admitted that she loved her husband and would want to help him, but she denied that she was a witness of convenience, giving evidence of this nature now in an effort to protect him.
She said that her husband worked in the interior and would be away from home for three months at a time, but that he had come home from the interior since October 2008. She admitted that from October, 2008 to January 11, 2009, he was not working. She also said that they had to move out from the rented apartment they lived in at Bare Roots, as the rent of $7,000 per month was too high, and the place was leaking also. This witness also said that the police went to their apartment in search of a white hat and a gun.
Both the accused and his wife testified that they now live with his mother and two brothers at Dazzell Housing Scheme, East Coast Demerara.
The virtual complainant, who was employed with Federal Management Systems at the time, had testified that the accused, whom she knew from seeing him in the area and who would greet her whenever he saw her, had held her up at gunpoint, taken her to an unfinished concrete house and raped her for some fifteen “painful” minutes.
She said she had told him it would not make sense to rape her as she had a baby that she was nursing and he assured her that because of that, he would not ejaculate in her. Following the rape, he then took her, still at gunpoint, to her home as he wanted money and gold but at her home, he looked through a window and saw her husband sitting on the bed holding their baby. He had left then, warning the woman not to tell anyone or he would return for her in the morning. She claimed she was accosted at 00:45hrs and the accused was with her for about an hour, during which time she was able to see him clearly with the aid of street lights and lights from nearby houses. She had taken the police to the unfinished house and while there, had pointed out the accused as the man who raped her. At that time, he was standing with another man on a nearby bridge.
The trial continues on Monday when the defence and prosecution are expected to make their respective closing addresses to the jury. Justice George is likely to sum up the evidence for the jury’s consideration on Tuesday.