Sex attacker targeted terrified male victim on Edinburgh's Calton Hill

An asylum seeker who claimed he had travelled to Scotland ‘for protection’ has been banned from an Edinburgh beauty spot for ten years for a sex attack on another man.

By Dave Finlay
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 7:52 pm

Sugian Al Zak, from Algeria in North Africa, was ordered to stay away from Calton Hill and jailed for 45 months for the attack.

He tried to rape his victim after leading him to a wooded area and taking off his glasses, before pushing him to the ground during the assault.

The victim told the High Court in Edinburgh: "It was dark. I could hardly see." Police who went to his aid found him alone and upset, but able to indicate where the attack had occurred.

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Banned and jailed: Al Zaki has been ordered to stay from Calton Hill and nearby streets for a decade

Al Zaki, 35, also known as Muhmad Bnay, had denied sexually assaulting the man but was convicted of the rape attempt on October 11 in 2019 at a pathway near to the city's Royal Terrace.

He was acquitted of attempting to rape another man on October 3 in 2018 at steps at Calton Hill.

Al Zaki was also made subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order prohibiting him being present at Calton Hill for 10 years "to protect members of the public from the real risk of serious sexual harm which you pose". His access to surrounding streets was also restricted.

Trial judge Lord Sandison said: "If you are found, without reasonable excuse, in a place prohibited to you during that period you will be liable to arrest and prosecution and may be subject to a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment."

He told Al Zaki: "You accept having in the past having made a practice of visiting Calton Hill for the purpose of have sex with men unknown to you.

"You frankly said in the course of your trial that you had had sexual contact with so many men on the hill that you could not confirm or deny that the victim had been one of them, although the DNA evidence plainly showed that he had been.”

He added "You continue to refuse to accept responsibility for your actions. You insist that all your sexual activities on the hill were consensual in nature. That is, by the verdict of the jury in this case, plainly untrue."

Al Zaki was assessed as posing a high risk of causing harm in a report prepared on him and it was not considered to be manageable in the community.

He claimed during his evidence at the trial that he was not violent. He said of the rape bid: "It is not coming to my mind about what happened with this man. I know that there are people coming to this park for this purpose."

He gave evidence through a translator and told the court he has never been to school, but came to the UK in 2017 and moved to Scotland the following year. He said he has sought asylum since 2017 and came to the country "to seek protection".

Defence counsel Tony Lenehan said that Al Zaki had found a "cave like" shelter on Calton Hill where he could sleep out. He added: "Plainly he came to appreciate the social possibilities that existed where he was."