A Skip the Dishes driver who's accused of sexually assaulting a woman during a food delivery in Kelowna back in May 2021 began his trial Thursday.
A 12-person jury will now decide the fate of Hamid Al Dergham, who's accused of groping a woman when he brought her a Big Mac and a McFlurry on the evening of May 3, 2021.
The woman, whose identity is protected under a court-ordered publication ban, took the stand at the start of the trial Thursday morning.
The woman testified she ordered the McDonalds through her Skip the Dishes app to her home in downtown Kelowna. It was around dinnertime, she testified, and the meal took about half an hour to arrive.
She said Al Dergham delivered the food to her while she was drinking a cider on her back deck. She was alone, as her friend had left a short time earlier, and Al Dergham began making small talk with her.
Through tears, she testified that while he sat beside her, he reached over and grabbed at her crotch.
“He made a comment about my crotch and then just reached forward,” she said. “I feel like there was no transition, there was nothing leading up to it, it was just out of nowhere and out of line.”
She said she turned away from Al Dergham, but he then tried to kiss her on the mouth and neck area.
“It just felt gross, sloppy,” she recounted, choking back tears.
She said she can't remember the exact sequence of events, as she was in shock, but she says he also grabbed her right breast before leaving.
She remembers him saying that he wanted to come back to her home later that night when he was done working.
She said the alleged assault happened quickly – less than a minute total.
The woman never ate her food, but instead left her home and spent the night at a friend's house. She was worried Al Dergham may return.
Her phone died while she was at her friend's, but when she returned home the next morning and plugged her phone in, she was greeted to a number of messages on WhatsApp from an unknown number. But she said she quickly realized the messages were from Al Dergham.
“Hello,” read the first message, which came through at 9:30 p.m. the night of the alleged assault.
Other messages were sent at 12:08 a.m., 1:23 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., and included requests for photos of the woman, a request to visit her, and a photo of a rose.
She received a phone call from the same number later the next afternoon, while she was at work, but she didn't answer. This caused her to finally respond with a message, telling the person: “Stop contacting me.”
Her next message read: “I ordered food, not to be sexually assaulted.”
The other person then responded with: “I'm sorry, it didn't happen anymore.”
The woman testified that she took this last response as: “I'm sorry, it won't happen anymore.”
English appears to not be Al Dergham's first language, as an interpreter is in the courtroom interpreting the entire proceedings for him.
Al Dergham remains out of custody during the trial.
Castanet has reached out to Skip the Dishes about Al Dergham's current employment status with the company, but the company never responded by publication time.