Wigan alleged victim 'heartbroken' after rape trial was dropped due to missing police evidence
A Wigan woman has slammed police and lawyers after the case against her alleged abuser was dropped due to missing evidence.
The Ashton mum said she has lost the chance for justice against the man who she alleges abused her throughout her childhood, who was due to stand trial last month.
The 63-year-old man from Liverpool was charged with attempted sexual assault, attempted indecent assault, sexual assault and rape for offences dating back to the 1960s.
The devastated mum initially began proceedings back in 2008, after walking into a police station and telling one of the officers about the “nightmare” she had lived through.
Following an inquiry, he was arrested and interviewed by police, but was told he would not be charged due to a lack of evidence.
Initially heartbroken, the alleged victim accepted the decision and tried to move on with her life, but was finally convinced to fight for justice against the man she says abused and tormented her for decades.
After she wrote to the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided to arrest and charge the man in 2017 and a trial date was set for October 2018.
On the day the hearing was set to start, she said she was not contacted by police or prosecutors, but was made aware that her alleged rapist was in court due to an online live proceedings website.
Later that week she received a call from police who delivered the devastating blow that the proceedings would not be going ahead due to missing evidence from police and solicitors.
A letter from the CPS read: “I am sorry to have to tell you that the judge decided that he could not allowed your case to proceed to trial.
“The reasons for this were that the defendant had been given an unequivocal representation in 2008 that he would not be prosecuted following the decision made by the CPS not to charge him.
“The defendant had been interviewed by the police in 2008 but the audio recordings of those interviews were missing, which the court decided created a significant disadvantage to the defendant.
“Whilst the court could have considered your video recorded interviews, which still exist, the loss of the interview recordings and other documentation including material then held by solicitors who represented the defendant in 2008 meant the defendant could not have a fair trial in the judge’s opinion.”
On receiving the letter, the alleged victim said that she “couldn’t believe” what she was hearing.
“Nothing had gone wrong on my end,” she said. “They promised me they would hear my case.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked. It’s all about him and how it’s going to affect his case, but there’s nothing about me in there.
“In a way it would have been better if it was my case that had fallen through or gone wrong.
“Before the trial I promised that I wasn’t going to let this ruin the rest of my life.
“I wanted him to stand up and at least be accused.
“I needed to see him face to face and do this, even if he wasn’t convicted. At least I would have been able to have some control over it and he would have faced justice.”
Since the blunder, CPS have released a statement.
Bernard Byrne, Head of the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences unit of the CPS in Merseyside and Cheshire, said: “He was charged by the CPS last year following a request from the complainant to review a previous decision in 2008 not to prosecute.
“However, following an application by the defence, the trial judge ruled that the case could not proceed. This was because some evidence from 2008 had not been retained by Merseyside
Police and the judge decided that it was not safe to carry on with the prosecution without it.
“We appreciate this outcome is disappointing for the complainant and we have written to her to explain what has happened.”
Merseyside Police also commented but were unable to explain what happened to the missing evidence. The statement added that they told the CPS about the missing tapes back in 2017.
Det Supt Richie Salter said: “The case was reviewed in 2016 and a file was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service. In January 2017 the CPS asked us to clarify whether we had the original interview tapes, we confirmed we have not and provided interview transcripts.
“The case progressed but was discontinued in court last month on the basis that the interview tapes were not available.
“We understand that the complainant will be disappointed by the decision not to proceed with the case and we will support her in anyway possible.”