Church leader's sex abuse convictions quashed
A CHURCH leader sent to jail has had 21 child sex offences quashed.
Queensland Court of Appeal has ordered two new separate trials for Shartiel Nibigira, who was convicted a year ago after a trial lasting 23 days.
Mr Nibigira, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, was sentenced to 13 years' jail after jurors found him guilty of charges including rape and indecent dealing.
He went to trial accused of abusing four church choir girls at Goodna, Redbank Plains and Brisbane.
But in his appeal, Mr Nibigira's barrister SM Ryan argued the church-going man should have been tried on two separate indictments.
In a judgment delivered on Friday, the appeal court agreed that a pre-trial hearing judge was wrong to refuse a defence application for separate trials.
Mr Ryan argued the offences Mr Nibigira was charged with were not a "series of offences" and there was not a strong enough connection between all the allegations to have just one trial.
Mr Nibigira, the complainants and their families all belonged to a Pentecostal church, and the complainants to a youth choir.
Jurors last year were told that at least three of the girls were under 12-years old.
The appeal court judgment was delivered a year to the day after Mr Nibigira, 43, was sentenced at Brisbane District Court. - NewsRegional