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Togolese jailed 9 years for raping DH

20 May 2017

Tuen Mun courthouse.
 A Togolese man accused of indecently assaulting and raping his Filipina domestic helper two years ago in Tuen Mun was sentenced on May 17 by a High Court judge to 4 years in jail for indecent assault and 9 years for rape.

Kokou Apelete, 37, a muscular construction worker, bawled loudly as Judge Esther Toh was summarizing the case at sentencing. Toh ordered the sentences to be served concurrently as the offense of rape immediately followed the indecent assault.

A day earlier, a jury of four women and three men voted 6-1 to convict the defendant at the end of a seven-day trial that began on May 8.

Judge Toh also ordered the convict to pay $48,120 to his victim, only identified as “Madam X”, as compensation for her loss of job after the sexual attack on Aug 25, 2015.

But whether the victim would be paid became doubtful as the defense lawyer, Mr Leung, told Toh after a 15-minute break that his client refused to pay because he had no money.

Prosecutor Michael Arthur told The SUN in reply to a query after the hearing that its may take another litigation for the victim to enforce the compensation order.

He said Apelete had already executed a power of attorney turning over his $50,000 bail money to the law office that defended him.

Judge Toh, at sentencing, said it showed how vulnerable foreign domestic helpers are as they come to work in Hong Kong households. “This is a very frightening experience for someone – in this case the victim – who is working far away from home in Hong Kong and entrusting her safety to her employers,” the judge said.

“In this case there is a breach of trust, as the defendant took full advantage of the vulnerable situation of the victim who is far away from her family,” Toh said.

At one point the convict’s Ghanaian interpreter interrupted the judge and asked for a pack of tissues for Apelete, who was crying uncontrollably.

Even so, the judge said she saw no remorse in Apelete, a Grade 2 educated man from Togo who came to Hong Kong 10 years ago and married a local woman.

“There was no remorse from the defendant because after assaulting and raping the victim, he told her to stop crying because he would send money to her family,” she said.

She said Apelete tried to delay the trial for three days by seeking medical care and keeping the victim waiting after she had flown back from her country to testify in court.

The court heard from Prosecutor Michael Arthur that Madam X came to Hong Kong in 2014 to work as domestic helper employed by the convict’s Hong Kong wife to serve her, her husband and their daughter, now 3 years old.

The maid was told that she would do general household chores while her employers went to work, and their daughter was with her grandmother.

On Aug 25, 2015, while the helper was having lunch in the kitchen, Apelete came home unusually early. He called her to the living room and asked her if she wanted to have a boyfriend in Hong Kong, and she said no.

“I want you to be my girlfriend and I will support your family,” he offered, but Madam X refused him. 

The victim said Apelete had made the same offer several times previously.

But later, while she was cleaning the toilet, the man entered and held her, then sat on the bowl, pulled her on his lap and kissed her in the face and breasts. When Madam X tried to escape, he blocked her and told her she could leave only if she hugged him, which she did.

She went to her bedroom and waited until the man left the toilet, then she took a shower.

When she returned to the bedroom, Apelete, naked from the waist up and wearing only a pair of shorts, followed and held her hands then pushed her onto the lower deck of a bunkbed and forced himself on her.

She remained in the bedroom and when she noticed that the man had left, she contacted a friend on Facebook and told her about the incident. The victim took photos of the bruises on her cheeks and sent them to her friend.  

About an hour and a half later, police knocked on the flat and arrested Apelete.

The victim appeared in court to give evidence on the fourth day of the trial, which had been delayed for three days because the defendant was said to have sought treatment at Adventist Hospital in Tsuen Wan.

The lawyer submitted a doctor’s letter saying he examined the defendant for hypertensive crisis and a suspected heart and kidney problem on day one, and that he underwent MRI scanning for a suspected spinal problem on day two.

On day three, Judge Toh ordered Aplete transferred to Queen Elizabeth for a complete medical examination. A medical report showed his hypertensive crisis and heart condition were under control.
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