West Law Report

Judge entitled to comment on rape complaint delay

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on December 1, 2008

From The Times
November 26, 2008
Judge entitled to comment on rape complaint delay

Court of Appeal, Criminal Division

Published November 26, 2008

Regina v Doody

Where a defendant raised delay to undermine the credibility of a complainant in a rape case, an appropriate warning to the jury was necessary to ensure fairness to the complainant.

The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division (Lord Justice Latham, Mr Justice Mackay and Mrs Justice Dobbs) so stated on October 24, 2008, when giving reasons for dismissing, on August 4, 2008, the appeal of John Doody against his conviction on June 8, 2007 at Wolverhampton Crown Court (Judge Challinor and a jury) on six counts of rape and one count of sexual assault by penetration.

LORD JUSTICE LATHAM said that the judge was entitled to make comment as to the way evidence was to be approached, particularly in areas where there was a danger of a jury coming to an unjustified conclusion without an appropriate warning.

Cases where a defendant raised the issue of delay as undermining the credibility of a complainant fell into a similar category as those relating to identification or the treatment of lies, save that the need for comment was in this instance to ensure fairness to the complainant. But any comment had to be uncontroversial.

The fact that the trauma of rape could cause feelings of shame and guilt which might inhibit a woman from making a complaint about rape was sufficiently well known to justify a comment to that effect.

The judge was entitled to add the particular feelings of shame and embarrassment which might arise when the allegation was of sexual assault by a partner. He was also entitled to remind the jury of the way in which the complaint in fact emerged.

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One Response

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  1. lavidjio said, on January 23, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    lavidjio


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