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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.

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:17:57

Spero - I mean for example - closing something I have heard but isn't related room the case I sat through.

if a victim is being accused of making rape up for financial gain - because they are having financial difficulty - the defence should have "proof" of that financial difficulty and not be able to just make it up.

BelindaCarlisle Mon 11-Feb-13 17:18:38

she wasnt a WITNESS , wasnt she the IP?

Domjolly Mon 11-Feb-13 17:19:11

No not a rape trial but i have been in a trail and in my view both get grilled defendants priors get brought up a pen they stole 20 years ago ect

I just saying its not nice and very hurt full but its a sacrfice i am willing to make with a heavy heart so EVERY ONE CAN GET A ROBUST defence

I never sat in on a rape trial
But i never been asccused of rape and faced life in jail

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:19:45

Spero - obviously people have to be questioned - but why shouldn't the defence be subject to the same standards of evidence as the prosecutor - the prosecutor has to have evidence of anything they say - so should the defence

Spero Mon 11-Feb-13 17:19:58

But what you are doing is then shifting the burden of proof - the accused has to prove he is innocent. That can't be right.

The system is manifestly not perfect but I think it is the least worst option. If the state accuses me of a crime, it is the state's job to prove it. Anything else makes me really, really uneasy.

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:21:05

Dom only 2% of crimes like this result I a prison sentence.

Very few rapists get "life".

TheSecondComing Mon 11-Feb-13 17:21:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spero Mon 11-Feb-13 17:21:50

How does the defence have evidence that someone is lying? Rapes are rarely captured on CCTV.

Usually only victim and accuser are involved.

I just don't understand what alternative you are advocating. There are already laws against relying on past sexual history for example.

Domjolly Mon 11-Feb-13 17:23:14

constantnamechanger if you say 24 and got 10 years its pertty much your life

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:23:27

well as far as I am concerned based on what I have seen and heard speaking to plenty of others - it is practically impossible to get a conviction based on current rules.

I don't have enough legal know how to give you answers - but at the moment too many rapists walk free, too much never even makes court.

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:24:23

Dom senses are miniscule in all but the most serious cAses - maybe you should do some research?

Spero Mon 11-Feb-13 17:24:45

It is a very interesting point that she was a reluctant witness. Apparently one of her friends went to the police and she was furious.

It if the prosecution had decided not to go ahead on that basis, I bet they would have been criticised.

She was clearly very vulnerable but I am not sure what 'the system' can do more than offer the help it did - which she rejected. It must have been awful giving evidence in eyeshot of her a user, but she didn't have to do that. But if she wasn't warned she was likely to be accused of lying, she certainly should have been. As far as I can see, that was the only tack left open to the defence.

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:25:29

Spero see the example I gave about finances above.

The defence should not be able to say someone is in financial difficulties - they should have proof of it.

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:27:13

Spero see the example I gave about finances above.

The defence should not be able to say someone is in financial difficulties - they should have proof of it.

Spero Mon 11-Feb-13 17:28:00

Convictions in rape trials are difficult because of the nature of the offence. Evidence of sexual intercourse is not evidence of rape - he will just say she consented to sex. Particularly difficult are cases where rapist was known to the victim - juries are reluctant to convict because it is so serious - maximum sentence life imprisonment.

But all you can do is change the burden of proof to balance of probabilities as opposed to beyond reasonable doubt or shift burden on accused to,prove he is innocent.

And for what I hope are obvious reasons, that would be very dangerous.

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:30:11

and Thats another way victims are let down - told not to apply for criminal injuries til post trail because the defence can use it against them - but you have to apply within 2 years and it often takes more than 2 years to get through court.

Spero Mon 11-Feb-13 17:30:16

I disagree with your example - defence say 'you are lying because you are in financial difficulties' witness responds 'no I am not, I am not in any financial difficulties'

Unless defence DO have evidence of those difficulties, jury likely to disregard this. But why do you think it sensible to fetter the defence?

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:32:11

Spero a system that continually allows rapists to walk free is also dangerous.

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:33:31

because otherwise it is never a level playing field - the prosecutor would not be allowed to use financial difficulties as a reason for rape unless they had evidencentre of those difficulties

Narked Mon 11-Feb-13 17:34:40

What worries me deeply is the advice she was given not to seek counselling. It echoes a comment I've seen on here - someone was advised by police/CPS not to get counselling until the case came to court and the trial was over.


Anyone who has been raped and then goes through the emotional turmoil of reporting that attack, waiting for the case to go to court and testifying should be able to have professional support. It should be confidential and shouldn't even be mentioned in court.

Spero Mon 11-Feb-13 17:36:37

You have to balance the dangers. I would rather the guilty went free than innocent people were locked up. I think the burden should very firmly remain on the state to prove guilt.

twolittlemonkeys Mon 11-Feb-13 17:37:45

I don't believe it was just the questioning in court which she couldn't face. An article I read today (DM unfortunately because couldn't find anything else on it) mentioned that she had attempted suicide half a dozen times over the past year. According to the same article, the family don't blame the QC who questioned her.

It's all so sad I'm a bit torn by it too. FA didn't want to bring the case to court. (Her friend who brought it to the attention of the police was my singing teacher for a few years.) FA was, I believe given the option to appear via video link or behind a screen, but chose not to. However, the lack of support given to her, and indeed the lack of information she received about the proceedings is something that needs to be addressed, otherwise many victims will be too frightened to speak out.

EmmelineGoulden Mon 11-Feb-13 17:38:38

I think wehn it comes to rape we have far too many guilty walking free, and we need a better way to find justice. I don't think we should remove the presumption of innocence, but I don't believe the sort of questioning that goes on in court rooms is in the least bit likely to illuminate truth or bring about justice (in either direction).

Spero Mon 11-Feb-13 17:39:04

What is desperately needs to speed up trials. That would hopefully deal with problems in delaying counselling. It there will be no chance of that as gov already massively slashing money available to criminal justice system.

Agitate against that, rather than against one woman who was doing her job.

constantnamechanger Mon 11-Feb-13 17:39:11

but you are never going to prove anything 100% in a he said she said scenario, its impossible. 

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