Monday, July 17, 2006

A Zimbabwean accused of trying to blow up his house while he and his lodger were inside should have been deported from Britain two years ago

Reading Evening Post:



Trevor Tarira, 31, was jailed in 2003 for attacking his wife and a judge ruled at the time he should be sent back to the African country after his release.

And the Evening Post can now reveal that just last month Tarira was convicted in Teeside of voyeurism and theft, jailed for a year, and put on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

On Friday afternoon, a jury at Reading Crown Court took just under two hours to find Tarira innocent of arson while being reckless whether life would be endangered, a charge laid against him following a gas explosion on October 17 last year at the house he rented in Fakenham Close, Lower Earley.

What the jury did not know was that Tarira is currently serving a one-year sentence imposed for voyeurism at Teeside Crown Court in June this year, and although he was cleared of the arson charge on Friday, he was immediately returned to prison to serve the rest of his sentence.

The court in Teeside heard how in December 2004 Tarira plied a woman with vodka before taking indecent pictures of her in a train toilet.

Tarira, who has a PhD from Zimbabwe, befriended the 21-year-old as she was travelling from the south coast to meet her soldier boyfriend at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire.

He convinced the woman he was a cancer specialist who had treated the mother of rap star Jay-Z in New York, the court heard, then got the woman so drunk she was unable to remember what had happened when the pair went into a toilet on the train.

Detectives believe Tarira may have used a date-rape drug, but no traces of any substance were found when the woman was examined.

Tarira, who gave his address then as Holmes Road, Earley, told police he was a surgeon at St Thomas’s Hospital, in London, and said his name was Dr Terry Shaft.

The jury decided that the woman was not in a position to give her consent for the pictures of her private parts to be taken because of the state she was in, and he was found guilty of two counts of voyeurism and one of the theft of the woman’s credit card.

A not guilty verdict was recorded on a charge of indecent assault.

After police arrested Tarira, they found hundreds of similar pictures on his laptop computer and e-mail correspondence with a man in the US, which suggested they collected them and had a ratings system.

Detective Constable Gary Heseltine, of the British Transport Police, said after the case: “He is an extremely dangerous man and I am pleased he has been removed from society.

“He is a devious, calculating man.”

After initial confusion surrounding his presence in the UK, partly because his passport had been destroyed in the Fakenham Close fire, it was established Tarira did in fact have the legal right to remain in the UK.

And Judge Leslie Spittle at Teeside Crown Court decreed Tarira was not “detrimental to this country” and therefore refused an application for his deportation.

Amazingly, Tarira had by then already been convicted at Reading Crown Court of assault after attacking his wife with a pair of scissors in May 2003.

Tarira carried out the “savage attack” on Florence Mavunga two days after she walked out on him, Reading Crown Court heard in June 2003.

He had confronted his wife in the car park of Wilton House residential home in Parkside Road, where she worked, and during the attack hit her face against a wall breaking a tooth.

The court heard Tarira told her: “You left me. Now you’re going to suffer, now you’re going to see.”

Tarira, then of Dovecote Road, Whitley, admitted one count of wounding with intent and was jailed for nine months.

At the time, judge Mr Recorder Guy Hungerford said: “What took place was a thoroughly savage attack upon a woman. There can be no excuse for that.”

He also recommended Tarira, who was in the UK on a student visa and whose young son and father still live in Zimbabwe, be deported upon his release.

In October 2005, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in London ruled against the Home Office and ordered a stop to deportations to Zimbabwe.

The tribunal said that people returning to the country from the UK were regarded as “traitors and spies” by Robert Mugabe’s regime, and were at risk of harm.

“Zimbabweans who claim asylum in Britain automatically identify themselves as opponents of [president Robert] Mugabe. To return them to Zimbabwe could seal their fate,” said Sherman Carroll, director of public affairs for the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, speaking after last year’s ruling.

However it is not known why Tarira was not removed in 2004, when he was released from prison but before the ruling came into force.

In April 2006, the Home Office admitted that more than 1,000 foreign criminals were released between 1999 and March 2006 without being considered for deportation.

Following a row over the scandal, Home Secretary Charles Clarke was sacked from government, and Prime Minister Tony Blair said he wanted the vast bulk of foreign prisoners to be deported automatically “irrespective of any claim that they have that the country to which they are going back may not be safe.”

No-one from the Immigration Service would comment on Tarira’s case on Friday.

The jury in the arson case heard Tarira had tried to kill himself with an overdose on the night of the house explosion because of the breakdown of his relationship, but he said he had not interfered with the gas and was unconscious because of the pills he had taken when the explosion happened. He was carried unconscious from the burning building by firefighters.

Lodger Michael Durkin, who had moved in to the property just two days before, escaped from the house unharmed.

Man denies trying to blow up house

Jury sees video of man's suicide bid

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