Just weeks after he was acquitted by a jury of charges of sexual assault and rape, Harbinder Khatkar went on a rampage, sexually assaulting a number of women over a period around 9 hours.
Khatkar, aged 37 from Derby, attacked 6 women in one night in February 2013. He broke into the homes of two of his victims and assaulted them. CCTV footage also shows Khathar chasing another of his other victims down the street.
These repeated acts of abuse and violence over such a short space of time are shocking. Although he pleaded ‘not guilty’ to all the charges against him, a jury unanimously found Khatkar guilty of 18 offences including rape, sexual assault, assault by beating and trespass with intent to commit a sexual offence. He has been sentenced to serve a minimum of 14 years in prison.
The strength and bravely of the victims in giving evidence at the Trial was acknowledged and recognised by Detective Inspector Doug Naden, who led the Derbyshire Police inquiry into the assaults. He described the actions of Khatkar to be ‘the worst crimes imaginable’. The impact of the assaults on the victims and their families will be significant.
Of particular interest in this case is that following his acquittal for rape and sexual assault around 6 weeks prior to the attacks, he was forced to face these charges for a second time. The existence of the ‘double jeopardy’ rule did mean that it was not possible to try someone twice for the same crime. This rule applied to the law in England and Wales for hundreds of years. However, the ‘double jeopardy’ rule was abolished in 2005 and it is now possible for a person to be re-tried for the same crime. The ability to quash an acquittal is only being used in exceptional cases and it is reported that there have only been 13 occasions where this has happened in the 8 years since the rule was abolished.
Khatkar was accused of raping and sexually assaulting a woman in December 2011, but after telling what has been described as elaborate lies he was acquitted by a jury. However, due to the extremely similar nature of this attack to the ones that took place in February 2013, the prosecution were able to argue that Khatkar was exhibiting a particular pattern of behaviour when carrying out his sexual offences.
Using the evidence of his most recent string of offences, the prosecution was granted permission from the Court of Appeal for Khatkar to face the charges from the attack in December 2011 for a second time. On the second occasion the jury found him guilty of the original crime.
This exemplifies how justice would not have been served if the double jeopardy rule was still in existence. Whilst the power to seek to quash an acquittal should be used sparingly, there are exceptional cases such as this where it is necessary route to be taken in the interests of justice.
Rachel Thain is part of Slee Blackwell’s specialist sexual abuse compensation team. You can speak to her in complete confidence and entirely free of charge on 0808 1391597 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org