witness in sex abuse trial commits suicide after grilling by female QC

(240 Posts)
BobbiFleckmann Fri 08-Feb-13 16:23:59

the violin teacher who was the unwilling prosecution witness against the two Chethams Music School teachers killed herself in the middle of the trial. She told her friend she felt like she'd been raped again after the female defence QC accused her of lying in her evidence. Very, very sad.
My cynical view is that defendants in sex cases go for female barristers because they think it'll give them a veneer of innocence /respectability. I know the woman was "just doing her job" but I'd sure like to hear her views on methods of cross examination in sex abuse trials.

BlissfullyIgnorant Fri 08-Feb-13 16:31:27

I heard this on the radio not long ago, in the school run. It's made me very upset and I'm disgusted that this poor woman was driven to take her life. I'd be interested to hear the points of view of those involved in the case, but don't expect we'll ever hear.

BobbiFleckmann Fri 08-Feb-13 16:37:07

do we have any defence barristers on here? I'd like to hear from them.

Mollydoggerson Fri 08-Feb-13 16:40:48

I think females are more aggressive to females than males to females.

But no one is responsible for someone else taking their own life.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 08-Feb-13 17:15:44

It's a very sad story but I think it is unfair to blame anyone else for someone's personal decision to take their own life.

Dothraki Fri 08-Feb-13 18:11:33

Last week when I heard the remarks from the QC I was livid - I thought that slandering victims was no longer acceptable. I am devastated for her and her poor family.

EmmelineGoulden Fri 08-Feb-13 18:34:44

I don't think it's unfair to blame QCs and the judges who allow these types of character assignations. We hear time and again from victims about how the trial is as bad or nearly as bad as the assault. This isn't some huge surprise. It's not the first suicide in these circumstances. And there are plenty more women who may not have felt suicide was the only path, but who nevertheless find the court proess hugely damaging. There is noway being a witness in court should be so damaging to a witness.

The people responsible for this aspect of it are the barristers that follow this line of defence and the judges that allow it. They absolutely should be blamed.

EmmelineGoulden Fri 08-Feb-13 18:35:25

*assassiniations

EmmelineGoulden Fri 08-Feb-13 18:35:55

I give up on typing.

Why is the fact that it was a female QC relevant? Would you have stipulated a male QC?

edam Fri 08-Feb-13 23:38:06

Oh Lord, that is desperately sad. I doubt the gender of the QC has much to do with it though. We need to lay down guidelines about the way vulnerable people are questioned, not assume that female lawyers will be nicer than male.

I've been following this case closely, because I know the accused sad (from a long time ago, but still shocked as I only have positive memories of him) One of the articles I read maintained that the judge insisted the barrister was just doing her job and hadn't in any way overstepped the mark in her questioning. However, it does seem that she wasn't prepared for the trial and had no real idea of what it would entail - in fact I understand it was a third party who brought it to the attention of the police, so she was then dragged through this whole process having seemingly put it behind her and moved on with her life. So so sad for her and her family.

Deryns Sat 09-Feb-13 01:45:07

It's the job of the defence to challenge the accuser.

The rape charge was a NOT GUILTY verdict.

The accused faced rape charges that potentially carried a life sentence.

Anyone facing a very long prison sentence is entitled to challenge their accuser.

The QC in question was not particularly aggressive to the witness - imo.

FarelyKnuts Australia Sat 09-Feb-13 02:09:49

Link?

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Sat 09-Feb-13 02:28:05
FarelyKnuts Australia Sat 09-Feb-13 02:32:04

Thanks bunch

Very sad. Even sadder that she was advised not to receive counselling during the trial?

hackmum Sat 09-Feb-13 10:57:55

This has made me very angry. On the Today programme they were questioning the way the prosecution handled the case, but to my mind they should have been questioning the fact that the defence barrister chose to question the victim so aggressively and the fact that the judge allowed her to do so. Why in this day and age can we allow vulnerable victims to be treated like this in court? This poor woman was accused of being a fantastist by the defence barrister and told she'd made it all up. No wonder so many rape cases don't get reported.

The whole thing makes me feel sick to the core. I hope the defence barrister has the decency to feel some sense of shame about it, but unfortunately people like that appear to have no scruples whatsoever.

Dothraki Sat 09-Feb-13 11:25:17

They were both found guilty of sexually abusing her when she was 14.

mayorquimby Sat 09-Feb-13 11:52:08

"do we have any defence barristers on here? I'd like to hear from them. "

No idea of the contents of the case and the nature of the cross-examination and the alleged discrepancies in her testimony are notm outlined in this thread so it's impossible to offer any opinion without that info.
I'd appreciate someone filling in the blanks though.

mayorquimby Sat 09-Feb-13 11:53:54

"My cynical view is that defendants in sex cases go for female barristers because they think it'll give them a veneer of innocence /respectability"

happens all the time.

Deryns Sat 09-Feb-13 12:10:21

""My cynical view is that defendants in sex cases go for female barristers because they think it'll give them a veneer of innocence /respectability"

happens all the time. ""

Not in this case - it was originally a male QC but he had to withdraw at short notice, nothing to do with his gender.

"Why in this day and age can we allow vulnerable victims to be treated like this in court? This poor woman was accused of being a fantastist by the defence barrister and told she'd made it all up. No wonder so many rape cases don't get reported."

She chose to give evidence in open court against the recommendation of the judge.

Whilst it is imperative that women come forward it is also important that the allegations are fully tested given that there is a maximum of life imprisonment for rape. To allow untested allegations to be treated as fact would be equally dangerous.

ledkr Spain Sat 09-Feb-13 12:16:28

I wonder if it would be very painful to be cross examined by another female and thus doubted. Somehow we expect women to stick together don't we?
I felt very upset yesterday when female mumsnet ers were defending a man who was abusing his wife. It seemed worse somehow.

JamesB1957 Sat 09-Feb-13 12:17:17

I practiced briefly a few years ago and had to put arguments that were difficult and which I did not believe myself. The fact is that a client is entitled to have their arguments tested. It does not make one feel good and I am quite sure Counsel will be feeling awful about this case. The Judge is supposed to ensure some levels of intervention - but if there is a complete clash then one has to face the issue that either the client or the witness is lying. It is not for a defendants barrister to judge the client - otherwise the client faces two trials - one from counsel and one from the court.

hackmum Sat 09-Feb-13 12:56:01

"She chose to give evidence in open court against the recommendation of the judge."

So it was her fault?

To my mind, it shows she was an exceptionally courageous woman. One Frances Andrade is worth a thousand Kate Blackwells.

Ponders Sat 09-Feb-13 13:06:34

some cross examination exchanges here

I assume they're accurate despite it being the DM (I don't think even the DM would make stuff up in a case like this?)

'Bernadette Baxter (representing Kay Brewer): All this has been a fantasy to get attention.
FA: If I wanted attention I would have done this an awfully long time ago'

Well, quite. & it wasn't even her idea in the first place, was it?

She defended herself as well as she could in the face of that sort of accusation. She was incredibly brave & it's so sad it's ended for her like this, without even seeing them found guilty of at least some of the charges

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