Rape case is dropped after police lose video evidence


- Credit: Archant

A WOMAN who says she was raped and physically abused by her ex-boyfriend has been ‘robbed of the chance to see justice done’ after video evidence given at Clevedon Police Station was lost.

The woman in the case, who reported to officers she had been raped and physically abused by her former partner between 2009 and 2011, is now calling on all police forces to review their processes.

Since the error, Avon and Somerset Constabulary has agreed to pay a settlement of £7,500 to the victim, known only as Ms D, after accepting her rights under the European Convention of Human Rights had been breached.

After Ms D reported the abuse to police in 2011, she was asked to give video evidence at Clevedon Police Station. However, in the summer of 2012 she was told the original video had been lost and she would need to provide evidence again.

Ms D said: “By this point I had undergone 10 weeks of counselling and was beginning to move on.

“I was prepared to relive everything again if it meant gaining justice so I did it and my ex-boyfriend was charged a short time later, which I was very relieved about.

“But, just days before the trial was due to begin, I was told the case had to be discontinued as the Crown Prosecution Service felt unable to prosecute because of the loss of the first video evidence.

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“I feel like I will never be able to fully move forward with my life as I have been robbed of the opportunity to see justice done.”

Fiona McGhie, of law firm Irwin Mitchell which represented Ms D, said: “Reporting the abuse was not a decision she took lightly and it obviously takes a tremendous amount of courage for any victim of abuse to come forward and relive what happened when giving evidence.”

The trial, which was for three charges of rape and one of sexual assault, was halted because of discrepancies between notes taken from the first video and footage of the second interview. The police admitted losing the original video evidence along with a working copy.

Assistant chief constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Kay Wozniak said: “This was a terrible ordeal for Ms D and we deeply regret the additional trauma she suffered as a result of our failure to secure the first evidence she gave.

“Her experience prompted us to carry out a comprehensive review of the recording, storage and management of video interviews. Now we store them digitally so that an incident of this kind could not happen again.

“We take all reports of rape and sexual assault extremely seriously. Our priority is to give victims the confidence to come forward and report incidents to us.”