A UGANDAN rapist who was jailed after admitting on Facebook that he attacked a woman has been deported after immigration officials dismissed his claim that he would face persecution because he was gay.
John Ssewagudde, 23, had argued he would be prosecuted in his home country of Uganda, where homosexuality is a crime punishable by 14 years in prison, and has seen vigilante murders. However, he lost his bid and was deported following the end of his prison sentence on Monday.
Yesterday, his victim spoke of her relief after fearing he would be released back to Glasgow, where she lives.
However, the 31-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, criticised the Home Office after only learning that her attacker had lost his asylum bid from The Scotsman.
She said: “It’s a relief. When I heard, I could have cried because I didn’t know what was happening. Was he out? Was he in [jail]? All I knew was he had come to the end of his sentence.
“I’ve been trying to find out. I wrote letters to the Home Office, I’ve e-mailed, I spoke to my MP, Margaret Curran.
“She was helpful and the Home Office said they would keep her informed but I guess they didn’t. Whenever I called the Home Office, they said his data protection was more important than mine.”
Ssewagudde was a charity worker whose visitor’s visa had already expired when he raped the woman in her own home on 25 June, 2010.
He denied the charge but was convicted after posting a message on Facebook saying: “I admit it. I raped you.”
He was jailed for four years in 2011. He made a bid for asylum while still on remand, but that was rejected last year.
His victim says she received no official confirmation of that, or of his deportation this week. The Home Office said it was in the process of writing to her, and would have informed her if he had been released.
She said: “I work until 9pm. Being out in the city, it’s intimidating. I would see someone who looks similar and at first I thought it was him.”
The victim moved home and even changed which bus she travels on, to try and make sure she would never see him again.
However, she insists the ordeal, including the court case – where she gave evidence over two days and was then recalled for further examination – has made her stronger as a person.
“I was not going to stay down, I got on with my life,” she said.
“I’m studying humanities at university and I want to get into victim advocacy. I also volunteer for victim support witnesses services, helping people through the court process.”
Rape Crisis Scotland has said authorities should keep victims informed when offenders are reaching the end of their sentence.
Sandy Brindley, national co-ordinator, said: “It can be extremely nerve-wracking for victims when the offender is reaching the end of the sentence. To be kept informed of what is happening should be the very least they can expect.
“Survivors of sexual crimes are in fear of what might happen when the attacker is released. That could be easily addressed just by keeping them informed.”
The Home Office said the case was an example of the tough line it was taking in deporting foreign criminals who do not have a justified case for asylum.
Ssewagudde could not have been deported sooner, as he had to serve his sentence first.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “Ssewagudde was transferred to immigration detention immediately on release from his prison sentence. He was deported to Uganda on 20 May, 2013.
“Those who come to the UK must abide by our laws. We take all necessary steps to deport criminals.”
She added: “Mr Ssewagudde was never released from custody – we would have informed the victim if he had been granted bail … we will take steps to see if we could have kept the victim better informed.”
Ms Curran said: “I am very concerned that the UKBA did not keep either the victim or myself informed of the progress of
Ssewagudde’s deportation given their previous commitment to do so.
“I will be raising this failure with the minister responsible.”
Victim court diary: ‘Trusting a friend became a nightmare’
My life changed on Friday,
25 June 2010, when trusting a friend turned into a nightmare.
Seven months of hell led me to this point. I had a date with justice. My date at Glasgow High Court started on
10 January, 2011 and lasted
Anxious is an understatement about how I felt that morning. What I should wear? How should my hair be? My appetite evaded me, I felt sick.
I arrived at court 30 minutes early and met the wonderful witness services advisers.
I was called into a room by the depute advocate to be asked some questions – the defence wanted to know if I was doing this for money (as if), if I ever used his phone (I wasn’t even allowed to touch it) and had I met his brother (no, he wasn’t in this country).
I signed an agreement so they could check if I claimed for criminal injuries and gave a statement.
I arrived 40 minutes early and paced the floor, not knowing what to do with myself.
The witness services lady held my hand and said: “Be strong and tell the truth. You have nothing to worry about.”
The door opened and I entered the court. He was hidden by a screen (thank God).
It was so scary seeing all these faces looking at me. I scanned the jury – seven women, eight men – all looking at me. I swore the oath to tell the truth and the Crown started. My name, my age, where I live, where I work; general questions to try and go some way to put me at ease.
The questioning moved on to how we met and how the relationship progressed.
I tried telling them about his controlling nature, how after one week he started trying to force me into having his baby, but the defence lawyer objected.
She jumped up and shouted so loudly I was taken aback.
Then it moved onto what happened that night. I had to tell every sordid detail of the rape. I allowed two tears to drop from my eyes but kept them hidden away.
Two hours passed before the judge let me have a break.
When I got back to the room
I broke down. I cried so much
I was physically sick in the bin.
Fifteen minutes later I had to go back. I wiped away the tears and took a deep breath and regained my composure.
The questioning moved on to what happened the next day when I first disclosed what happened to me.
Then there was the Facebook evidence and the majority of my trial was all about his admission on Facebook.
I cried myself to sleep the night before as today was the defence’s turn. When I walked into the courtroom, the jury were really studying me, the same as the court officials.
I gave them a weak smile and a nod. The defence lawyer stood up and began to question me. She allowed no other answers except yes or no, but I flaunted the rules and tried to elaborate on my answers, feeling proud as I stood up to her.
She went on to imply I was lusting after this man; she implied I had a sexual relationship with his brother (who never gave evidence in the trial and who I have never met) and she asked me if I gave him breakfast. I said yes and that I could see where she was going with it. Tears of regret pricked my eyes.
She slammed her hand down hard on a surface and said: “I never asked you that. Please answer yes or no.”
I said: “Yes.”
She painted the picture that I looked at his phone and was overcome with jealousy and stole it, that we had a huge argument and I threw him out of the house, that I embarked on a hate crime against him and I sent the messages to my Facebook profile admitting that he raped me.
I do not know how he was supposed to have got his phone back, but he was found with it on him when the police came to arrest him.
I was no longer required, so I stayed away from court as I knew it would be too difficult to listen.
It’s John’s turn to give evidence, The defence lawyer paints him as the victim. When the advocate cross-examined him, he went from the quiet, scared victim to a screaming maniac.
In his screaming rant, he came out with some ridiculous lies. Apparently I had to pay men to sleep with me, I had HIV (which I don’t) and how I was “gagging for it” and so much more.
DAYS SIX AND SEVEN
Various officials came in and out – the police, the computer expert, the nurse who examined me, a psychologist, a bruises expert and some more.
I got a phone call that morning to tell me I was recalled. Upset does not cover it. I thought my part was over.
I have never felt so vulnerable, afraid or isolated as I did at that time.
What did she ask me about? Facebook! She implied again that my friend and I co-conspired for the confession.
I replied: “No, I wanted him to admit what he had done and say it out loud to make it real for me and him.”
The closing speeches. I didn’t go to these and I’m glad I didn’t, because in personal and graphic ways they were talking about me, questioning my actions and my character, nothing to do with him. That night I wept myself to sleep.
DAY TEN – THE VERDICT
This was the most nerve-racking of all. He was brought up to the dock. I gripped my friend’s hand. This was the first time I’d seen him since that night. He spotted me and gave a half-smile.
The judge asked the jury: “Do you have a verdict?” The chairman said: “Guilty, your honour,” by a majority vote.
I nearly passed out and started to sob.
18 FEBRUARY, 2011
When he was brought up to the dock, he grinned at me and made me feel quite scared, but I went to find out how long he was going to be put behind bars for.
Four years, backdated to July 2010, and an opportunity for early release in 2012 was his sentence. John’s reaction? He laughed and gave me a peace sign.