A Nigerian student who was accused of raping a 21-year-old shop assistant has been cleared by a court. Sam Obeghe, 24, was having sex with the woman at his flat at the end of a drunken night out in Bolton, Greater Manchester, only to stop when she unexpectedly cried the name of his 22-year-old friend Zack Garrigan.
As he did so, the woman, who had earlier been having sex with Mr Garrigan at the flat in nearby Heaton, ran her fingers through Mr Obeghe’s hair and realised she was with the wrong man.She stormed out in hysterics, her mother alerted police and within three hours of the encounter, University of Salford economics student Mr Obeghe was arrested in his pyjamas.
He was ordered to face court and endured a 17-month wait until a trial, but was unanimously acquitted of rape by a jury at Bolton Crown Court after just 27 minutes of deliberation.
During the trial the woman said the bedroom was ‘pitch black’ and she couldn’t see anything, despite Nigerian-born Mr Obeghe being of a different ethnicity and having various different features to white Mr Garrigan.
The incident occurred on December 5, 2014 when the woman had got drunk while out with a friend. The two women met Mr Obeghe and Mr Garrigan in the Vogue bar in Bolton and in the early hours of the morning the four of them plus another man went to the student’s flat.
Mr Obeghe, who had not been drinking, gave the party a lift in his BMW but once they got back the woman and Mr Garrigan began kissing and headed into the defendant’s bedroom for sex.
The woman said she and Mr Garrigan did not have intercourse and she fell asleep whilst he went into the lounge to try to find some Viagra.
But she told the court she was subsequently woken by a man she thought was Mr Garrigan in the bed and they began having sex.
She said: ‘I was saying Zack’s name because I thought it was him I was having sex with. The person hugging and kissing me didn’t feel any different. I thought this was Zack
'I called his name four or five times. It went on for a couple of minutes until I put my hands through his hair and realised it was not Zack but was Sam. I was screaming “what are you doing”?
‘He ran out of the room. I was embarrassed and ran out. Zack was asking what was wrong, I was just saying that I needed to get out.’
Mr Obeghe, who at the time worked for a fashion brand, said he had met the woman while helping Mr Garrigan celebrate his birthday and he agreed to let the group go back to his flat at 5am.
I’m a human being and if you get touched like that you have a motivation to move on
‘I could tell she was drunk - her and Zack were the same,’ he said. ‘Music was playing and they were kissing and then went into my bedroom.
‘I sat there thinking “what have I done” bringing them back here because I had work the next day.
'I saw Zack coming out, first naked and I was saying “come on, I need to go to bed”.
‘I asked him “are you guys leaving?” but he was not really paying attention to what I was saying and I said “I’m going to go and get her out”.
‘I walked into the bedroom sat on the bed and started nudging the woman saying ‘go and meet Zack in the living room’. At first I lay there thinking “finally I can go to bed” but she grabbed me.
The woman said she and Mr Garrigan did not have intercourse and she fell asleep whilst he went into the lounge to try to find some Viagra
‘I was just thinking “I didn’t really want to have sex with her” but I’m a human being and if you get touched like that you have a motivation to move on.
‘I figured she was probably very drunk but she grabbed me saying “come on Zack” then I realised she’s thinking I’m Zack so I jumped off the bed and jumped out of the room.
‘I went into the living room and told Zack: “Man you will not believe what she’s just done”. Zack was sort of laughing and then I saw her storming out and she was screaming. I was in shock. I didn’t climb on top of her and kiss her.’
After the not guilty verdict Mr Obeghe, now 26, was too upset to comment, but his lawyer Sarah Johnson said: ‘We are not suggesting this is a wicked woman telling a wicked pack of lies.
‘But she couldn’t remember everything that happened in that bedroom. She’s not someone you can say is accurate and reliable.
‘She said the room was pitch black and she couldn’t see anything, despite the defendant being of a different ethnicity, having different features and a different voice.
‘It was only when putting her hand through his hair she put her head back and it’s that movement of her head that allows her to see that it’s Sam and not Zack.’