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2.8 wasted years and grief that I will carry forever

It’s been one month since the end of my rape trial and 2 years and 10 woman looks downmonths of me waiting for it to be over, however, it’s never really going to be over because, in the end, there was no resolve.
The end result was the Not Proven verdict.

[Photo by Aricka Lewis on Unsplash]

When I left the court room after the closing statements the only real update I could give to my friends and family is that if the man who did this did not end up in jail then really, no victims of sexual assault stand any sort of a chance in the justice system - and that means we continue to live in a broken society where sexual assault continues to be rife. I knew the chance of conviction was low but it was none the less traumatising to witness and experience first hand the level of impunity.

The availability of this verdict, especially in sexual assault trials really is just another ‘get out of jail free card’ an opportunity to walk away without consequence. That is evidenced by its disproportionate use in rape trials.

The worst part for me is that there really was a considerable amount of evidence which included DNA and witnesses and in hindsight it’s abundantly clear that the defence case was based on the availability of this verdict.

There was no clear defence at all . The defence lawyer started his own arguments by stating that it was not a civil court and it wasn’t a balance of probabilities. They had to be more sure than other choices they make for example Brexit or buying house overseas. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so frightening to me that this man is free to walk the streets, along with many others, because of this extra and unnecessary verdict.

I have already been fighting for almost three years, I have absolutely no doubt I would be successful in civil court but I cannot put myself through anymore, I don’t think I would survive it. I cannot get my head around how victims are having to resort to torturing themselves further in the pursuit of justice to the extent where it is being mentioned in trials. We are being let down tremendously.

The jury took less time to come back with this verdict than I do to get ready for a night out which speaks volumes to me - I think it gave them an out. I could perhaps understand if they had taken considerable time. Given the amount of evidence that was available I do truly believe that, if they had the had to choose between one version of acquittal and guilty that the deliberations would have taken much longer and that the trial would have ended in a conviction, I do feel like they just didn’t have to choose.

Presently I feel like I did this to myself, that I caused myself years of grief and suffering by phoning the police, what was the point when at the end the system failed so badly. What does that say about our Justice System? There are so many reasons why survivors do not come forward and in Scotland we then have one final hurdle to overcome which is outdated and redundant. The Not Proven verdict is not benefiting Scotland and its availability is causing a great level of damage. I have been left with 2.8 wasted years and grief that I will carry forever. In spite of acknowledgement that everyone in the court had understood it to have happened, legally it didn’t count.

I pictured a million ways that this would end but it never crossed my mind that there would be no ending at all.

Hannah

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A Mum on February 1 2019

I admire you for doing all you could to bring the perpetrator to justice , and for speaking out now. All you say is true and people need to listen. I am sorry for all your pain. I send you my best.

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