CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses an alleged sexual assault against a minor.
A man will fight allegations he gave a young girl and her friends a lift in his car in exchange for her performing a sex act on him in a hearing next year.
In April 2022, police heard a 14-year-old had told her mother she had performed a sex act on a man in exchange for cannabis and a car ride earlier that month, court documents allege.
The girl went on to tell police she had been at the Dunlop shops at about 1 am on 7 April 2022 with a group of her friends. All were of a similar age and had been drinking.
They allegedly flagged down Ali Bashar Alaraja, who the girl claimed she had met a few times, as he was driving by in his BMW and he stopped and chatted for a while before driving off.
It started raining later and the children were unable to get home, so one of them allegedly messaged Alaraja asking for a lift and he agreed on the condition one of them would perform a sex act on him.
The girl eventually agreed even though she did not want to, but she thought there was no other way to get home.
Alaraja allegedly picked up members of the group and drove to the Belconnen Mall before dropping some off and heading to a secluded area of a car park with the girl where she performed the sex act on him.
He allegedly returned to the group, gave the girl some cannabis and dropped them all off at another part of the mall.
Several days later, a member of the group told the girl she had also allegedly met with Alaraja and he gave her cannabis in exchange for a sex act.
This second girl showed police messages allegedly sent between her and Alaraja on social media in which she asked for him to give her and some friends a lift to Belconnen also for sexual favours.
Police went to Alaraja’s home in McKellar in May 2022, seized his BMW and arrested him on 9 May when he attended Belconnen Police Station.
He pleaded not guilty to charges of committing an act of indecency on a person aged between 10 to 16 and supplying cannabis to a child. He spent three months in custody before he was granted bail.
He appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday (28 September), his 20th birthday, and sought to vary a condition of his bail that stated he could not access any electronic device or phone.
His lawyer, Toni Tu’ulakitau of Tu’ulakitau McGuire, said his client needed the variation as he was on Centrelink and had been directed to engage with the Salvation Army to look for other work options to sustain his welfare payments.
Prosecutor James Melloy said there were plenty of other ways Alaraja could correspond with the Salvos, such as through his father.
He said this bail condition sought to protect the vulnerable young girls involved in these charges, and the alleged risk to them was too great to allow him access to a phone.
Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter was ultimately persuaded to grant a bail variation to allow Alaraja access to an electronic device or phone at a Salvos’ office while under supervision of a member of the organisation and only to search for jobs or for Centrelink.
As media took photographs of Alaraja outside the courthouse, another man yelled that the journalists were “vultures” and told them to “f-k off”.
He will face a hearing to contest his charges in March 2023.