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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Back to Front Justice

Judge John Rogers has today been added to my legendary Hall of Fame for warped justices.

I frequently post on my blog about the treatment of rape victims by the legal system, and meet generally with two extreme camps: those who think most women are liars and those who think many, if not all men, are rapists (the majority of readers are, of course, somewhere in between).

I will be interested to know what my two camps feel about the case of a woman jailed for perverting the course of justice - not for making up a rape allegation, but for lying when she said the rapes DIDN'T happen.  The implicit assumption within Judge John Rogers' eight month jail sentence for the woman is that she WAS a genuine victim of rape and was therefore a dirty liar for retracting her allegations.

Nobody can argue that it wasn't inconvenient for this woman to chop and change her account.  Nobody can believe that police officers and prosecutors in this case weren't wringing their hands when she changed her story for the third time, nor that thousands of pounds weren't wasted in the rape case that fell apart.  But the perversity of a sentence that accepts their status as victim while the perpetrator of crimes against them has walked free should not be under-estimated.  This is not someone who falsely retracted a statement allowing SOMEONE ELSE's murderer or attacker to walk free, but someone whose only victim of their befuddled evidence was herself - oh, and the man that Judge John Rogers accepts to be a rapist. 

When recidivist, premeditated burglars, thugs and gangsters are daily walking free with suspended sentences and community orders, just what on earth was Judge Rogers thinking?  More to the point, just what substances had the police and CPS consumed the week they decided it was a good idea to prosecute a repeat victim of rape for not wanting to go through with the prosecution of her attacker?

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19 Comments:

Anonymous Juma said...

I have a female friend (A) who continues to go back to her violent partner. She'll occasionally claim he's beaten her up, raped her, stolen her money ( in no particular order )and so on.

Everytime this happens, her older sister (B) offers her a safe haven to stay ( which includes her and her sister sleeping in the marital bed, with B's husband camping out in the living room), and has even once organised a rented flat for her nearby.

She (A) changes her story EVERY TIME. EVERYSINGLETIME. And she inevitably goes back to her violent partner and also has consensual sex with him. They're then loveydovey for some months, until it starts again.

Don't ask me why she does it. She's got the support of an extended family and friends who want nothing more than to help.

He says she's the one who provokes him to no end.

I wish someone would put her in jail or force her to stay in a safer place than at home for 8 months.

Might clear her head and cure her addiction from this man. And his for her.

Even if you are the victim, you should not lie, change your story 15 times..... And NOT go back to the violent partner.
Sad, very sad.

07 November, 2010 14:46

 
Anonymous Juma said...

And I do hope that the rapist husband it put in jail as well for what he's done, but by now, I guess all evidence is useless.....

07 November, 2010 14:47

 
Anonymous Dee said...

Doesn't matter what the judge accepts, how strong in whoever's opinion the evidence.

Because of her obstruction, he now knows a way to avoid prosecution in the future, and because he's not gone to trial, he'd have to offend again before he can be tried.

If the guy's a rapist, he now has the potential to do so again. Someone else will have to suffer.

We'll never know conclusively whether he was guilty or not - on these occasions.

The judiciary had the power, if the evidence is so strong, to detain him until trial. Unfortunately, not his relatives, who apparently influenced her.

The court did not have the power to force her into a place of safety away from him or his relatives.

Judge Rogers may well have done her a favour. At least the lass is away from an awful and abusive situation. For now.

08 November, 2010 13:04

 
Anonymous painauchocolat said...

Phew, what a mess.

My own personal view is that the victim should have stuck to her guns (i.e. not retracted the allegations).

And Holly Dustin's laying it on a bit thick, "chilling message" etc.

08 November, 2010 19:14

 
Blogger Russell Haynes said...

If people believed in the court system, i think there'd be less false / retracted allegations! Firstly, repeat offenders would already be behind bars and secondly, when someone reports something, they can trust and know it will be handled appropratly and respectfully... not like some of the stupid decisions you report on now and again!
As for violent husbands... 3 main theorys commonly used : conventional, radical and critical (victimology)-
Conventional - The victim causes the issues: Proneness, Preceipitation, Vulnerability or attractiveness
Radical - Real issues, like no money if they leave, leaving the kids, jobs etc
Critical - Looks at the indicidual and their circumstances...
All have positive and negative points... take a little of both and we may understand a little more why 'they' go back!
Or thats the theory of my force!

08 November, 2010 23:33

 
Anonymous Ben said...

Where did it say the Judge accepted he was a rapist?

The story also doesn't say whether she was found guilty by a jury or plead guilty. I'm betting she plead guilty to "false retraction" to avoid a charge of making a false allegation - hoping for a lighter sentence.


She on the other hand was condemned out of her own mouth. She told one story then another - one of them must have been a lie. She didn't retract her story until she had *already* been charged with perverting the course of justice.


***Either way it isn't the Judge's fault.***

No, sorry. Perverting the course of justice in such a serious matter should get a serious sentence. As it has in this case.

Given that she is guilty, I think the sentence is about right.

09 November, 2010 16:10

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hadn't thought about it before Reading the comments on here. But indirectly maybe time in prison will give her time to get away from him.
Minty

09 November, 2010 21:52

 
Anonymous Ben said...

I don't get it. Is someone pretending to be Shijuro? Sorry, I just didn't understand that last one.

09 November, 2010 21:54

 
Anonymous Rhiannon said...

I think that they should have just let her change her story. She shouldn't really, she should be absolutely sure that she wants to go through court etc. before starting things.
However, rape leaves you damaged and traumatised.
And being a witness in court is horrible, especially (I imagine) when it's for something as personal as this.
As someone who was raped and didn't ever go to the police etc. and as someone who has been a witness in the crown courts I would say that I'm not sure I'd be able to go through with it.
And it is embarrassing to admit that you were raped, especially in front of a court room. It is difficult (near impossible) to face the person who raped you.

I think putting her in prison was absolutely wrong.

10 November, 2010 09:58

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Ben, I do accept your point - obviously she lied somewhere along the line! But the judge's summing up took no account of the possibility she was a traumatised victim of rape. He didn't conclude that there was evidence she WASN'T raped, so the sentence had to be passed based on the Crown's case, which is that the retraction was the false part. I have the feeling he sentenced her as he would have sentenced a woman who made a false allegation of rape, which was NOT the charge before the court. It would be like sentencing someone for theft and deciding to use the sentencing guidelines for burglary.

10 November, 2010 21:11

 
Anonymous Ben said...

Firstly: It doesn't say anywhere in the story what the crown's case was. All we have is the description of the result given by people described as "activists". We don't even have the guilty party's name.

For all we know the crown's case was a single charge based on both statements, one of which must be a lie, to which I am betting she pleaded guilty.


Secondly the sentence was only 8 months of which she will serve probably 3 and a half. Had she made a false allegation (which is an attempt to have a man falsely imprisoned for 5 years to life) I would have hoped she would be sentenced the same as for an attempted rape, e.g. 2-5 years.

So no, I don't think the sentence is harsh on either set of facts.

11 November, 2010 11:44

 
Anonymous youngJP said...

The judge said in his sentencing remarks that had she fallen to be sentenced for making a false allegation of rape she'd be facing a sentence of 2 years imprisonment. The 8 month sentence, in my view, aptly reflects the lies she told. The truth is we've no idea whether what she said before was true or indeed what she's saying now is true! And by conducting herself as she has done she's brought the criminal justice system into disrepute.

11 November, 2010 12:23

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A rape victim was pressurised by relatives of her attacker into trying to get the charges against him dropped and when that failed, into retracting her allegations completely. That is witness tampering, by anyone's standards. Witnesses and victims of crime are supposed to be protected, not attacked by the system that is supposed to give them justice because that same system failed to protect them when they *tried* to play by that system's rules.

I am appalled by the lack of compassion shown here and in other places for this woman. What a vile, cruel society we have become.

Readers, if that is your opinion, then I am glad I do not know you and I feel sorry for any females in your life, be they friends or relatives, because they clearly cannot ever count on your support and compassion if such a horrific thing ever happens to them.

Rape is not a women's problem, it is everyone's problem, as is the misogynistic attitude which informs that first opinion.

I do not believe I have ever been more ashamed to be British as I was when I 1st read this story.

14 November, 2010 00:56

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the rape victim was placed under pressure, and intimidated by the rapists family to retract her statement and to not proceed with the court case; then surely she backed out of the prosecution under duress?

Intimidating a witness in a court case is an offence, isn't it? It does seem to be very harsh and unjust to send the woman to prison because she lost confidence and felt unable to go through the ordeal of a court case.

Perhaps the male is in a position of responsibility, or a "public figure" and a court case against him would bring his "profession" as well as himself into "disrepute".

This case has the wiff of that old chestnut....sweep it under the carpet...frighten the rape victim and then "kick" her when she's down, to discredit her for the rest of her life. Dirty tactics.

14 November, 2010 02:45

 
Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

Frankly, while I have every sympathy for victims of this sort of crime; frankly mucking the court and police around with changing her account deserved some form of punishment. Not to say her attacker didn't also deserve a punishment; but frankly it's hard to credibly accuse someone if you can't keep your story straight. Yes I accept it's a very traumatic crime that destroys lives, but if it gets to court and you start changing your mind it is (or should be) very serious. Bear in mind she didn't change a subjective element of testimony; she outright lied in a court. Her actions also make the plight of other rape victims even more difficult.

I wish they'd do it to other, more deserving cases though i.e. murder, abh etc; lie/cheat/change your story on a statement or in the box in any way and see the inside of a cell.

14 November, 2010 11:17

 
Anonymous Cabbage said...

From a pragmatic point of view, rather than one concerned with the justice of this particular case, it occurs to me that this ruling will do no favours to men who are the victim of rashly made false allegations by women who are drunk, angry or upset - now their accusers will know that if they try to undo their folly and retract the allegation, they risk prosecution themselves, while sticking by an allegation they know to be false will not do them any harm unless it can be proven false. Whether it would've been right and just for the CPS to take this into account when deciding whether it was in the public interest to prosecute, I don't know - but I'm inclined to think they should've.

15 November, 2010 00:18

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've probably seen it but here's an update:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/nov/23/mother-retracting-rape-allegation-freed

Tang0

23 November, 2010 16:24

 
Blogger Sarah said...

Usually when DV is talked about people start focusing on the victim and their actions and not the perpetrator. They forget that they always only know a tiny percentage of what happens.

Leaving is the most dangerous time for a battered spouse, it's when they're most likely to be raped or murdered and the victim truly knows what the abuser is capable of. Sometimes if the abuser can't get their victim they'll go after the victim's family, children, friends. For some people staying is the safest thing that they can do.

DV is one of the leading causes of homelessness: refuges are often full and remember that some of them are horrible. They're full of drug dependents, sex workers and if you move in as a vulnerable person then the local criminals will walk all over you. Compared to this life with an abuser can be sunny.

One of the reasons it's illegal to abuse someone is the psychological damage that it does: rape often causes few physical injuries but psychologically it's devastating which is why it's seen as such a serious crime. PTSD and depression screw up how someone thinks and can leave them unable to get up in the morning let alone create a new life for themselves.

Usually victims are vulnerable before they get into a DV relationship they've usually been through some kind of abuse or horrible family life. Sometimes the seemingly nicest family or person can be capable of truly horrendous crimes. Victims often have poor friends, the sort that will judge her, whiningly ask why she doesn't leave but don't even google why doesn't she just leave and see the many valid reasons that someone would stay. The sort of friends that do exactly what the abuser wants: judge the victim, put all the emphasis on the victim's actions, make derogatory comments about the victim and generally make it much easier for the abuser to abuse.

These are just a few reasons why someone stays - there's many, many more valid and justified reasons. The sad truth is leaving isn't always the best thing to do, calling the police isn't always the best thing to do (just look at this blog piece) and victims are often totally trapped.

http://www.opdv.state.ny.us/public_awareness/bulletins/spring2002/trapped.html

http://groupbox.com/ViewArticle.aspx?iGroupID=GQSfsl9As70-&iArticleID=ekLbF4tNRZM-

28 November, 2010 09:15

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Cabbage, thank God the most senior judge in the land was concerned with "justice" in this case.

The Lord Chief Justice,[et al] freed the poor woman on the 23-11-2010, upon her appeal against the harsh sentence to the Royal Courts of Justice. Quite rightly too.
Three cheers for wise, fair and compassionate judges.

Lord Judge was quoted as stating in this case...."There is a difference between an individual who instigates a false complaint against an innocent man and one who retracts a truthful allegation against a guilty man". He also suggested that a community punishment would have been more compassionate, under the circumstances of the case, as she had been placed under a great deal of pressure to retract her complaint of rape against her husband.

IMHO, had the woman been forced to serve the 8 month prison sentence given for retracting her TRUTHFUL allegation of rape, that would have brought shame upon the judicial system. It was too harsh a punishment for a victim of rape who was upset and under a great deal of pressure from her husband and his family.

Victims of rape do not deserve the added insult of a punishment because they were again victims of intimidation to retract a genuine complaint.

29 November, 2010 02:08

 

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