CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Man wrongfully arrested for male rape: ‘My life’s in shreds’

Student from Sierra Leone, released without charge, has spent nine years fighting for justice

22 August, 2019 — By Tom Foot

A MAN says his life was plunged into disarray after he was wrongfully arrested for a male rape.

Umaru Bangura, who lives in Mornington Crescent, has spent nine years relentlessly pursuing his case through official channels and the court system.

He says he will not give up until he brings the police to justice for his ordeal, which continues to haunt him today.

Officers investigating a rape near Loughborough University, Leicestershire, arrested Mr Bangura in front of his shocked house mates.

Mr Bangura, who is from Sierra Leone, later discovered that police had initially been hunting a white man for the rape he had been arrested for.

He was released after a few hours without charge, but whispers spread around campus and stuck in his social circle because the attacker was not found for several years afterwards.

Mr Bangura has since been diagnosed with depression and, eventually, psychosis and says he struggles to live the life he was in search of.

He said: “If you go out in Camden, you will see there are people that are traumatised, I have been one of them. I have been transformed from someone who is outgoing into someone who is isolated. It has destroyed my life.” He added: “It has to be solved – I will never stop.”

Mr Bangura came to this country to better his education. Both his parents had died in the war and he came to live with his extended family in King’s Cross in 2003. He began an economics degree at Loughborough, taking out loans to meet his student fees.

In an official complaint to Leicestershire police, Mr Bangura wrote: “As a consequence of my arrest and detention for the alleged rape, I suffered social stigma, the severe mental health condition depression disabled me and affected my daily activity.

“My potential university career has collapsed and I have been unemployed since.”

His case was investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which found no rules had been broken by officers in making the arrest.

Officers had initially been looking for a white man for the rape, but further offences took place where the attacker was described as black.

Students had been put on notice about sexual assaults on campus. In 2016, a 35-year-old man was jailed for seven years for the offences.

Earlier this year, the Criminal Records Office wrote to Mr Bangura saying his biometric data had been “irretrievably deleted” while his fingerprints had been “put beyond use”.

This year, the Met approved an application for this Police National Computer record to be deleted.

But in the meantime he has become isolated. He uses the internet in Camden libraries most days, researching further details about his case and the key players in it.

In May 2016, Mr Bangura’s civil claim for compensation at Northampton Crown Court was dismissed. He has been frustrated by several court hearings in Leicestershire and applications to the High Court.

He said the British justice system – that he had been brought up to admire as a child in Africa – had not matched his expectations.

In a statement, Leicestershire Police said: “In May 2011, the force received a complaint in relation to an allegation of wrongful arrest during a rape investigation.

“The complaint was fully investigated by a senior officer within the force and the investigation determined that no officer had a case to answer for misconduct.

“The complainant was given the right to appeal, which he did with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

“The IOPC carried out an independent investigation which concluded that, again, there was no case to answer.”

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