On Trial for Serious Sexual Offence
Senior Crown Court Litigator Lisa Sawyer recently instructed Barrister Vanessa Marshall of 7 Bedford Row chambers. The allegation of a serious sexual offence, and Lisa’s client was one of two defendant’s on trial.
Complainant Gave a Detailed Account
The prosecution case was that the complainant had been targeted in a nightclub by both defendants as she was drunk and vulnerable. In evidence the complainant alleged that she only had a partial memory of leaving the club and what happened afterwards. She maintained that she was not in control of her actions or in a position to consent to sexual contact owing to her intoxication.
The three went to a flat and she maintained that she drifted in and out of consciousness, became aware that she was being made to have sex against her will, and pretended to be unconscious hoping that they would leave her alone. She alleged that they did, and she was able to take her belongings and flee. She complained of being ill-treated to a taxi driver and to her mother.
The complainant was able to give the location of the flat that she had been taken to. The co-accused was arrested and he gave the name of Lisa’s client. Their mobile phones were seized and interrogated. Photographs of the complainants underwear were recovered and a video footage of Lisa’s client having sex with the complainant who seemed to be asleep and wasn’t participating. Further photos were found that did not show either defendant in a good light. Further interrogation of the phones showed that the defendants were part of a Whatsapp group that publicised their sexual encounters and kept count.
Client Accepted Poor Conduct but not Rape
Lisa’s client and co-accused accepted being the two men involved, and accepted sexual activity in the night club. They maintained that the complainant was not as intoxicated as she latter alleged. A request for disclosure of CCTV from
outside the club supported this account. Both men accepted having intercourse with the complainant. They accept that there conduct in relation to the photos, filming and messages was distasteful and showed a lack of respect, they had not raped the complainant. Detail they they could provide of the complainants personal circumstances could only have come from conversation with her, suggesting she was sober.
Phone Evidence Supported the Defence
Our client argued that the complainant arose out of regret after the fact. There was evidence to show that she had spoken to a friend in the taxi back to her mothers, but had deleted that call record from her phone before the police could seize it. She gave different accounts as to her recollection in her interviews and in her first description of events to those concerned in the investigation.
Although a trial for a sexual offence should be heard quickly, proceedings were prolonged. The first trial concluded with a hung jury. There was a second trial in December 2016 that resulted in both defendant’s being acquitted.
Client had Legal Aid for Sexual Offence Trial
The case had a number of complexities that counsel and Lisa identified. With the benefit of legal aid, Lisa was able to:
- Instruct a medical expert to comment on injuries seen to the complainant
- A telecommunications expert who provided crucial evidence as to deleted calls and commentary on call history between her client and the complaiant
- Instruct expert counsel to represent her client
Although counsel was from London chambers, Lisa knew that she would spend as much time as preparation of the case would entail. Significant time was spent with our client in conference. Lisa drafted a comprehensive defence statement dealing with every aspect of her client’s defence so that he could not be criticised at trial. Her client’s instructions were eight pages long. Lisa was able to secure a number of references that demonstrated her client’s exemplary character away from these proceedings.
Counsel fought extremely hard on behalf of Lisa’s client to secure this result and avoid a conviction and sentence that would have been measured in years.
Contact Lisa Sawyer
Whatever the charge you face before the Crown Court, be it a sexual offence or other allegation, Lisa will be able to provide you with expert specialist legal advice, instruct the best advocates and secure any expert evidence necessary to assist you case. Please telephone her on 0115 9599550 or email her here.