Alameddine family members’ defence for alleged carjacking of Uber driver

The head of the Alameddine family and his cousin have faced trial over the alleged carjacking of an Uber driver.

Rafat Alameddine and his co-accused cousin Hamdi appeared in a joint trial in Parramatta District Court on Monday.

They are both charged with one count of robbery in company causing wounding and one count of aggravated assault with intent to take a motor vehicle in company.

Hamdi’s lawyer April Francis told the court that the alleged victim Sulaiman Shojaei had misunderstood the pair’s motives when they approached him in a parking garage in 2019.

She argued at the time that Hamdi believed Mr Shojaei had been involved in a traffic accident with him while he was driving his work ute.

During the prosecution’s opening statement, the court was told that Mr Shojaei had been washing his Hyundai Accent, which he uses to drive rideshare, in the parking garage of his Merrylands apartment on November 30, 2019.

Sometime before 2pm, Mr Shojaei was preparing to leave the garage to begin his shift when Rafat and Hamdi approached him and blocked his vehicle, the court was told.

“They shaked (sic) their hands and they ask for me, ‘Brother, are you leaving here’?” Mr Shojaei said during his evidence.

“One came to me and he said, ‘You hit my car and you ran, police are coming to catch you’.”

Mr Shojaei said he told the men he’d never been in an accident and didn’t know what they were talking about.

He told the court one of the duo then reached through the partially opened window and tried to take the key from his car.

“The other one was saying, ‘Let us get the key otherwise I’ll punch you’,” Mr Shojaei told the court.

He said he told the men to let him go and repeatedly yelled for help but no one came to assist him.

The court was told by Mr Shojaei that when the two men moved a short distance away from the car he got out, ran to a nearby roller door and then turned around and took pictures of them using his mobile phone.

He said when the two noticed him taking pictures they came after him, allegedly taking hold of him and trying to take his mobile phone away.

“They started hitting me … they hit me with their foot, they punched me … and they tried to get the mobile from me,” Mr Shojaei told the court.

When asked where he felt himself getting hit, Mr Shojaei replied “on my (right) eyebrow and on my body”.

Mr Shojaei told the court during the alleged assault he dropped his phone and it was picked up by Hamdi, who fled outside the garage.

“Having scuffled with the complainant, Hamdi chose to leave so taking such a route as to avoid further confrontation with the complainant,” Ms Francis said.

“Such physical confrontation as there was was not premeditated, it was responsive, it was proportionate.”

After taking a few seconds to recover from being hit, Mr Shojaei chased after Hamdi, following him out onto the street where he again confronted him.

Hamdi told Mr Shojaei he could have his phone back but instead he hopped into a black vehicle allegedly being driven by Rafat, and the pair took off, the court was told by prosecutors.

The mobile phone was never recovered.

The trial continues.

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