Sun. Jul 14th, 2024
alert-–-hundreds-of-rape-victims-who-were-told-there-was-‘not-enough-evidence’-to-prosecute-their-attackers-are-set-to-use-a-new-scottish-law-to-re-open-their-cases-as-victim-testimonies-will-now-count-as-evidenceAlert – Hundreds of rape victims who were told there was ‘not enough evidence’ to prosecute their attackers are set to use a new Scottish law to re-open their cases as victim testimonies will now count as evidence

Hundreds of rape victims who were told there was ‘not enough evidence’ to prosecute their attackers could use a change in Scots law in a bid to win justice.

It was ruled last week that testimony about a victim’s distress can for the first time be used in court as evidence of rape.

The landmark move allows independent testimony about the trauma experienced by the victim to bolster other evidence, such as DNA, in a bid to make it easier to prosecute rape cases in future.

However, campaigners believe the ruling could also be used to reopen cases previously dropped because of a lack of corroboration.

Last night Sandy Brindley, chief executive of charity Rape Crisis Scotland, said: ‘This judgment presents a seismic change for the use of corroboration in sexual offence cases.

Karen Devine is now hoping for her case to be reopened after she made rape claim 

‘We hope it will be a very positive step for survivors seeking justice in Scotland.

‘If a survivor has been told that their case cannot proceed because of insufficient corroboration, and has questions about what this ruling might mean for them, we would advise them to get in touch with the contact who dealt with their case at Police Scotland or the Crown Office.’

Among those who hope the ruling could allow their case to be reopened is mother-of-two Karen Devine, who alleges that she was raped by a well-known Scottish celebrity.

Earlier this year, The Scottish Mail on Sunday published her claims that she was attacked in her home by the man, her ex-partner.

Police Scotland investigated Ms Devine’s allegation but told her there wasn’t enough evidence to launch a prosecution.

Ms Devine, who waived her right to anonymity, said: ‘Hopefully the changes will help with my case. I am completely different after what happened to me. 

I might not have told anyone straightaway but I was quiet and withdrawn. What he did took a toll on my mental health, which my family noticed.

‘They say that it makes sense now that they know. It was clear I wasn’t OK afterwards. I’ve left my job and have been having counselling since.’

After Ms Devine, 40, reported the incident, the man was arrested and questioned but later released.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, KC, Scotland’s most senior prosecutor, last week argued at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh that it was wrong for jurors to be barred from considering that distress shown by a rape victim in the immediate aftermath of an assault can corroborate the crime.

Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway, confirmed that distress displayed by a complainer to another witness can now be used.

He ruled: ‘It is clear that, in the Commonwealth generally, distress can provide corroboration of a sexual assault, including rape.

‘Scots law is out of step with the rest of the Commonwealth.’

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said it ‘will work with partners to consider the terms of this ruling carefully and what it means’.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘We are considering the judgment and are liaising with COPFS to fully understand the implications.’

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