Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The criminal standard of proof has been lowered for the worst crime you can be accused of

Poor old Rolf Harris. Things aren't looking too good for him.  The verisimilitude with which the complainant paints such a sordid and detailed picture of what she claimed he did to her makes us see it all in our mind's eye, as if we were a fly on the wall.

It used to be the case that the accused was given the benefit of the doubt in cases when it is clear that the evidence cannot, logically speaking, be more than one person's word against another's.  In such cases, the matter would never reach trial because the Prosecutor would know that uncorroborated evidence can never by itself satisfy the standard of proof required to prove a case beyond all reasonable doubt.

By making admissible the uncorroborated testimony of alleged offences committed decades ago, the court is in fact inviting the jury to decide who is speaking the truth ON THE BALANCE OF PROBABILITIES.

Readers are asked to note that if proving a case beyond reasonable doubt is 75+%, then proving a case on the balance of probabilities - the civil standard of proof - is only 50+%.

The powers that be have unilaterally decided to make it easier to convict you if you have been accused of the worst crime there is - paedophilia.

Only the intellectually degenerate do not understand this.  That would appear to be all of the legal profession apart from Barbara Hewson.

And only the morally degenerate look the other way and pretend they do not understand this.

In a case called DPP v Boardman in 1975, the House of Lords acknowledged that offences could ordinarily only be tried together if the offender’s modus operandi showed a ‘strikingly similar’ method, such as a rapist who always wore a Batman costume. This enabled the defence to keep out evidence that might be prejudicial, such as cases where witnesses have colluded to give false evidence, or cases where one witness has simply been influenced by contact with another witness.

Unfortunately, in 1991 and 1995, the Lords took a different approach, and relaxed this rule. That has led to the current practice of ‘bundling’ of multiple sex allegations in the same trial. It’s called ‘corroboration by volume’, or ‘no smoke without fire’. And it is hugely effective, which is why it has become the prosecution’s favourite tactic.

This development coincided with the practice of police ‘trawling’ for complainants, which unfolded as a result of the ‘paedophile ring’ theory of abuse that police and social workers were following when investigating children’s care homes in the 1990s. The consequences for our justice system have been very serious. Time after time, juries are faced with extremely grave accusations of an historic nature, where there is no supporting independent evidence (such as medical evidence), but which turn simply on one person’s word against another’s.

As the historian Richard Webster pointed out in his Memorandum of Evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, which examined this problem in 2002: ‘When defendants are compelled to face large numbers of allegations of sexual abuse made by different complainants in a single trial, the presumption of innocence is almost inevitably destroyed.’

The emotional impact on a jury of a whole sequence of tearful complainants speaking of sexual violation cannot be underestimated. The obscenity and, sometimes, violence involved makes their stories extremely powerful, even where the vague nature of historic allegations (usually without any specific dates) make them well-nigh impossible to rebut convincingly, unless by chance some contemporaneous document is unearthed, which gives the accused a convincing alibi.

To make matters more complicated, it is now received wisdom among the victim/ survivor movement and the therapy industry that rape and other forms of sexual assault invariably scar victims for life, causing them years of torment. This reflects decades of feminist campaigning.

But the standard use of the ‘trauma model’ is problematic in some ways. It means that such offences are seen as uniquely heinous, because they involve a kind of ‘murder of the soul’. So both lawyers, and the public, feel honour-bound to demand that the accused be dealt with very severely indeed.

The jury will convict Rolf Harris under these conditions and the nasty, stupid and brutish will cheer and jeer, always delighted to spit on and kick at someone lower than they are if they can find him.

No comments: