An Iraqi migrant caught masturbating in the centre of Swansea in broad daylight said he did it because he could no longer afford prostitutes.
On trial for outraging public decency, Fershid Halmat Hemdadi admitted carrying out the lewd action in front of members of the public but disputed that the incident took place in a public place.
Hemdadi claimed his actions, which he heard in court were “obscene” and “disgusting”, came after women in a passing car “seduced” him.
The court heard that the Iraqi, who claimed to be 23 but gave the court three different ages, had asked a woman for a cigarette before wandering into a public lane next to Primark and McDonald’s, where he was sighted with his hands down his trousers.
When confronted by council employee Alex Dubens, who asked Hemdadi if he’d been masturbating, the Iraqi said “yes but I did not finish” and explained he was forced to do it there because he “didn’t have anywhere else to go”.
Recalling the exchange on July 25, Mr. Dubens said: “It was very blasé. He didn’t seem to comprehend the gravity of what he’d done”.
The court heard that Hemdadi had told the officer who arrested him: “I was just w******, I’ve got nowhere else to go”.
Later, he told police: “They [women passing in a car] seduced me and I w***** and told them ‘do you want to follow me, they said no, no, no’.”
The Iraqi pleaded not guilty to the charge of outraging public decency, claiming the lane by Primark and McDonald’s was not a public place.
Vaughan Pritchard-Jones, the prosecuting lawyer, said: “All the defendant has disputed is that this incident didn’t take place in a public place, he doesn’t dispute masturbating in the presence of members of the public.”
Hemdadi laughed as the court was shown a video in which the Iraqi, questioned by police, put his hand down his trousers and made fast up and down movements to demonstrate what he’d been doing.
Magistrate Neil Brown had to tell Hemdadi to stop when he tried to demonstrate his actions again in the courtroom.
Speaking through an interpreter, Hemdadi denied the lane where the incident took place is public. He argued that “This court is a public place, McDonald’s is a public place – the place this happened isn’t” and further defended his actions by stating that he did not expose his penis.
The Iraqi told the court: “I used to have money and I paid for sex, but I don’t, I’m sleeping on the streets.”
Hemdadi, who is seeking asylum in the UK, explained that he fled Iraq for his safety after being released early from a 25-year prison sentence in his homeland.
The asylum seeker was found guilty of outraging public decency and will be sentenced on September 21.
He was told by the magistrate: “Your statement clearly indicated you knew what you were doing, you have fully admitted your actions, you also admitted that you saw people in the vicinity but you persevered with your actions.”