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Migrant skipped bail, fled country after rape accusation


A woman who was attacked a rapist who has been at large for 16 years after being granted bail by a judge has said he should never have been released.

Carly Carter, now 37, was attacked by Mohammed Zamani in Bristol in June 2005.

Despite having fled the UK and then being arrested on his return, Zamani was granted bail ahead of his trial, and within weeks he had left the country again.

The Iranian national, now 52, was tried and convicted in his absence last week and given a 16-year prison sentence.

Miss Carter has waived her right to anonymity to criticise the judge who granted Zamani bail at a hearing in November 2005.

'The police were so good. And they did everything right. And we came so close to getting him off the streets. And it was that one judge, Carol Hagen, who let him go,' she said.

'I knew from the moment he was given bail it was inevitable he was going to go (abroad).

'I could have had closure 16 years ago. And that's a long time to carry this. And there's no doubt in my mind he's out there doing it to other women. And we came so close to stopping that.

'I felt numb. I was numb for years. Everyone else around me was getting angry and it wouldn't sink in.'

Miss Carter was returning home from a night out in central Bristol when she was attacked by Zamani.

His DNA was left at the scene and he was identified as a potential suspect soon afterwards.

When officers went to arrest him, he had already left the country and his car was found at Heathrow Airport. DNA samples taken from his car matched the scene of the attack.

Zamani was arrested when he returned to the UK.

He admitted having sexual contact with Miss Carter and another woman who was the victim of an attempted rape in Bristol in 2003, but he denied both offences.

He was charged and appeared at Bristol Crown Court where Judge Hagen granted him conditional bail to wear a security tag and also surrender his passport.

Zamani failed to attend his next hearing and has been at large ever since.

Miss Carter, who gave evidence at the trial at Bristol Crown Court, said she hoped her attacker would be brought to justice.

'I have to believe he does. I can't begin to process that he wouldn't. I think he'll slip up and make a mistake and they'll get him. I have to believe that,' she said.

Detective Sergeant Nicholas Lawson, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: 'Mohammed Zamani is a highly dangerous sexual offender and he remains wanted by police.

'He's proven himself to be a calculating predator in the way he walked the streets of Bristol late at night looking for a woman to attack in this abhorrent way.

'The victims who gave evidence against him during this trial have shown immense bravery, but there will be no sense of justice until Zamani is apprehended and imprisoned to serve out the sentence imposed by the court.

'It's possible he may still be in the UK, but our working hypotheses is that he's abroad and we're working with our international law enforcement partners to find him as a matter of urgency.'

Judge Hagen retired in 2013.