Fiona Robertson secures acquittal in joint enterprise rape
After a trial lasting nearly 3 weeks Fiona Robertson’s client was acquitted in under 4 hours of joint enterprise rape and false imprisonment with intent to commit a sexual assault.
The defendant and another were accused of taking the complainant to a secluded balcony after a night of drinking, pinning her down and raping her. CCTV showed the parties drinking in the street for 4 hours before heading to a nearby block of flats where they were eventually found some 5 hours later. The police were alerted to events after a resident of the building heard shouting and observed a distressed, partially naked female being restrained on the floor by the two defendants. He filmed part of the alleged attack on his mobile phone before calling the police.
On arriving at the scene the police discovered the complainant naked but for a zip up top, highly intoxicated and very distressed. One of the defendants had fresh scratches to his neck while the other had a used condom in his pocket.
The defendants stated at the scene, and maintained at trial, that they had been trying to help the complainant who had been trying to kill herself. In cross examination the complainant accepted she had tried to kill herself but maintained this was only after the defendants had raped and strangled her.
The case was complicated by the vulnerable state of the complainant as well as Fiona Robertson’s client who had an IQ of just 55. The trial was conducted without any intermediaries and instead strict ground rules were in place. Examination of the witnesses required a careful, sensitive approach in the style of questioning and being alert to signs of stress or misunderstanding. Fiona Robertson sought to demonstrate the Crown’s timeline and case theory was fundamentally flawed, the complainant was inherently unreliable and the defendants’ account, that they were preventing a suicide attempt by the complainant, was supported by independent evidence.