13 January 2024

Youth worker, 25, accused of raping 13-year-old girl he allegedly met over social media

| Albert McKnight

Smart Chigemezu Enoch, 25, was released from custody when he was granted bail on Friday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to alleged child abuse.

A church-going youth worker spent weeks in custody before he was granted bail for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl he had met on social media.

Smart Chigemezu Enoch was arrested in late December 2023 and was refused bail when he first tried to be released before it was granted by the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (12 January).

The girl had been at the Gungahlin Marketplace on an evening in October 2023 when she connected with a man she hadn’t met before on the social media application Snapchat, court documents say.

It is alleged this was the 25-year-old Mr Enoch.

During their conversation, she told him she was 14, although she was actually a year younger, and said she was stranded in Gungahlin and couldn’t get home, so he allegedly offered to drive there and give her a lift.

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It is alleged that after Mr Enoch picked her up and started driving, he began asking her how she would pay for the ride.

She said she could pay him in the next week as she didn’t have the money at the time, but he allegedly told her he wanted to be paid immediately and threatened to return her to the Marketplace if she didn’t.

He allegedly told her something like, “There’s other ways you can pay me”, and suggested she give him oral sex. She told him “no” and that she was underage before he allegedly parked his car in a dark street.

It is alleged he then grabbed her and sexually assaulted her twice in the car.

“Don’t tell anyone because if you tell anyone, I will f-k you over so bad,” he is alleged to have told her before dropping her home.

Smart Chigemezu Enoch will return to court to face his charges later this year. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The next day, the girl went to police and later to hospital for an examination.

Police raided Mr Enoch’s home in Lawson on 5 December 2023. While they spoke to him on the phone, he told them he was in Sydney on a work placement at the time. He was then arrested on 21 December and refused bail.

The Nigerian national, who is in Australia on a student visa, applied for bail again on Friday. His barrister, Katrina Musgrove, said he had not evaded police before his arrest and had no criminal history.

The barrister argued the evidence in the case was “not particularly strong”. A medical examination kit that had been conducted with the girl two days after the alleged rape had not identified any potential male DNA profile and Ms Musgrove claimed that went a long way to negativising the allegations.

“It’s a word-on-word case,” she said.

Ms Musgrove also said the regular church-goer did have a working with vulnerable persons certificate, but he knew he would not be able to return to his job as a youth worker.

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Prosecutor Lewis Etheredge, when opposing bail, alleged the offence had been a “violent sexual assault against a child unknown to him at the time” and said there were a number of factors why a male DNA profile was not recovered from the medical examination.

Magistrate Robert Cook thought it was a strong prosecution case. But he also noted how there had been no alleged reoffending or actions by Mr Enoch to suggest he was a risk to the community in the two months between when the alleged rape occurred and when police raided his home in December.

The magistrate said there was no risk to the girl that was evident on the material before the court, although he did tell the defendant, “I do have concerns about you, Mr Enoch”.

Bail was granted on conditions and the matter was adjourned to 26 March.

Mr Enoch has entered not guilty pleas to two counts of sexual intercourse with a person under 16 and single counts of sexual assault in the third degree and unlawful confinement.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre on 02 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call Triple Zero.

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