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Man who broke into B.C. home, sexually assaulted woman sentenced to 5 years

Man got caught 14 years after offence after providing his DNA for a separate conviction
The Law Courts building, which is home to B.C. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, is seen in Vancouver, on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A man who broke into a Richmond home in 2001 and sexually assaulted a woman who had been asleep in her bed was sentenced to five years in prison last month.

Christopher Sharafi, also known as Mohammed Mendi Sharafi, was found guilty of break and enter and sexual assault in October 2023. On April 30, a judge handed him a five-year sentence for each charge, to be served concurrently.

The offences date back to the early morning of Dec. 2, 2001, when a woman awoke in her Richmond home to find a man standing in her room.

“The room was dark. The man, whom she did not recognize, lay on the bed beside her. There was a struggle. He punched her and pulled her off the bed,” Justice Nitya Iyer wrote in her conviction ruling.

The man proceeded to sexually assault the woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban. Afterward, he briefly lay his head on the woman’s stomach, then got up and left.

The woman waited until she was sure the man was gone and then ran outside to a nearby convenience store and called 911.

Police took her to hospital, where she was treated for abrasions and tenderness on various parts of her face and body. She also provided a vaginal swab, which was later used as DNA evidence.

At the same time as she was receiving medical attention, police also went to the woman’s home. They discovered a broken latch on the window of her laundry room and determined that was how the man had broken in.

“The police found fresh pry marks on the outside of the window and grass and debris on the interior ledge.”

They tried to collect fingerprints, but couldn’t find anything that was usable.

The day after the assault, on Dec. 3, police had a sketch artist work with the woman to draw up an image of her assailant.

Despite these efforts, police couldn’t identify a suspect. It wasn’t until about 14 years later, when Sharafi was convicted on separate charges and ordered to provide his DNA in that matter, that police discovered who had done it. As soon as Sharafi’s DNA was submitted to the National DNA Data Bank, it made a match with the DNA retrieved from the woman back in 2001.

In court, Sharafi argued that the reason his DNA was found inside the woman wasn’t because he had sexually assaulted her, but because they had had consensual sex earlier in the night. He said someone else broke into the woman’s house and assaulted her.

In her conviction ruling, the judge said she did not believe Sharafi’s account of the evening.

Richmond RCMP shared the sentencing decision on Wednesday (May 29) and commended the woman for her courage through the multi-decade ordeal.

“She has been unwavering in seeing the offender brought to justice despite having to relive these traumatic events. We recognize how difficult it can be for victims to report offences to police, especially sexual assaults,” Inspector Michael Cohee said.

The detachment encouraged anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault to report it to police.

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