At 04.00 at the end of July last year C, a woman living in Bethnal Green, telephoned the Police claiming that she had ben orally and vaginally raped by two men of Mediterranean background who had attacked her as she tried to escape their advances in a park.
An ABE interview took place later that day. In it she stated that she had left her flat at about midnight to get some money from an ATM to buy her son some breakfast for the morning. Two men had approached her, asking her name and trying to force her to drink a can that one of them held. She walked away down the Bethnal Green Road as they pursued her, asking her name and whistling at her. She had made off down a side street and, being caught by them, had been forced to dance for them against her will.
She managed to escape through a gap in a fence into Weavers Field Park. The two men pursued her and forced themselves on her, taking turns to orally and vaginally rape her. One man left after he had ejaculated on her, and she had managed to escape by ‘monkey crawling’ away from the last man under some bushes and ran off.
B, a Hungarian national was identified from CCTV seized from a nearby shop later that day. He was arrested at City Airport in possession of a single ticket to Hungary, with no baggage. A, who was later identified as the other individual involved and who was also a Hungarian national has never been arrested.
The Defendant, B, gave a very full explanation in interview stating that he had bumped into A on the Bethnal Green Road. He had never met him before, but heard him speaking Hungarian on his telephone and got talking to him. As they were talking a woman, C, approached them, and asked for a drink. They all walked off together and B went into an off licence to buy some alcohol. The three of them then walked off together, talking and, at her suggestion went over to Weaver’s Field Park. They then stayed by the park as the woman chatted and then danced with them both to music played on her phone. She stated that she needed money and would have sex with them for £20 each. She lead them into a darker area of the park and he handed over £40. She had oral sex with him, he left and the next thing he had seen was C and A kissing. He had gone to the airport to fly home as his sister was very ill. He could only afford a single ticket but would have got the money for the return ticket from his family.
B was remanded in Custody and then the full effect of the cut-backs in the Criminal Justice Service kicked in. He was due to enter pleas at a PTPH in October. However the Court had booked a Romanian rather than a Hungarian interpreter and the date was ineffective. A later PTPH was fixed for December. This was also ineffective as the Court had only booked the interpreter for 15 minutes. There was a delay producing the Defendant and the interpreter could not stay on past 1045.
The Defence made an application for the CCTV which had been seized by the Police to be disclosed. They disclosed a disc with over 50 hours of CCTV on, accompanied by a very lengthy, but repetitive schedule of CCTV which was not in chronological order. A further application was made for a shorter CCTV disc with only the relevant recordings of A, B and C on it, and asked that it be in Chronological order. The CPS declined to produce one, stating that the disc would be ‘too long’. At a mention hearing the Crown were ordered to create and serve such a disc.
JG created a schedule using the Disc that was eventually served, using the unused material provided by the Police in their schedule. It overwhelmingly substantiated the evidence of the Defendant. It showed her in animated and friendly conversation with the two men as they walked down Bethnal Green Road. It showed them all stopping at an off licence and her drinking from a can of Guinness that she had been given. It showed the three of them sitting down outside Weavers Field Park. It showed her dancing enthusiastically and provocatively with both men. It showed her leading both men into the park. It showed then three returning from a darkened area of the park together, and B separating himself from the other two. It also showed that the complainant had had sex with C when B had left the scene. The sex was rough and was described by the police as ‘rape’ in their schedule of the unused.
On the first day of the trial the Judge asked if the Crown wanted to continue. They did. They objected to the Defence application to cross examine the Complainant on three previous false allegations of rape and sexual assault as being ‘too prejudicial’ (a novel submission). They had not responded to the Defence objection to hearsay. The Judge adjourned all of those rulings. They opened the case on the basis of the Complainant’s ABE. The next day the ABE was played. The complainant, by this stage, had the benefit of an intermediary (despite the Defence’s objection). She had been granted an intermediary as she had been sectioned subsequently to her ABE. She was cross examined. It was put to her initially that every single detail of her account was demonstrably wrong and, in particular, that she had had sex with C when B had left. She flatly denied every suggestion, in particular that she had had sex with C (all of which suggestions had been taken from the CCTV supplied by the Crown).
After an hour’s cross examination when relevant parts of the CCTV were played to her, she claimed to be too ill to continue.
The next day, before she was recalled to give evidence, the Crown offered no evidence.