The partisan reporting from all aspects of the media this morning, has resulted in headlines such as ‘Fury of women’s groups as footballer is cleared in retrial’. Football forums have disappeared under a deluge of derogatory comments regarding the sexual behaviour of the young girl.
The most pertinent fact regarding the introduction of new evidence into Ched Evans retrial has been – some would say deliberately – buried in a welter of comment designed to appeal to either the ‘he’s a rapist who got away with it’ or the ‘she’s a slapper who should be prosecuted’ readers of their various newspapers.
Had this been a straightforward case of a girl claiming to have been raped, I seriously doubt that the evidence would have been allowed. Rule 41, as it is known, would have precluded that.
However, in case you have forgotten, Ms ‘X’ has never, at any time, claimed to have been raped.
Ms X had gone out for a night drinking in her local God forsaken welsh town where nothing ever happens; she had woken in a hotel room, minus her handbag and purse, and unaware of how she came to be there. She thought, since she had not drunk more than her usual two large glasses of wine, four double vodkas and a sambuca shot, that perhaps this time her drink had been spiked. Unsurprisingly, she turned to the police for help in finding her handbag.
The police, quite reasonably, investigated the hotel room where she had woken up, and discovered that it had been rented for the night by a high profile footballer. They also discovered her handbag in a local kebab shop. She was examined by a Doctor, found not to have imbibed any of the well known rape drugs, though a quantity of cocaine and cannabis was discovered – and also the fact that she had had sex with more than one person in the previous 24 hours. She was unable to help the police with any of their investigations, because she simply had no memory of anything that had occurred since going to a kebab shop in the early hours of the morning.
To all those screeching this morning that this prosecution should never have been brought – what do you expect the police to do when faced with this set of circumstances? Ignore the facts? Is that what you would want if it was your daughter who had woken up in that hotel room?
They travelled to Sheffield and arrested the man who had rented the hotel room – Ched Evans. They asked him to explain himself and how she came to be there. He quite unwisely and without legal advice, told them that his friend, Clayton MacDonald, had been out drinking with him that evening, but had texted him from a kebab shop to say that ‘he had a bird’ and was going back to the hotel room. He went on to explain that they had both had sex with her, she gave every indication that she was a willing partner to this event, urging them to ‘go harder’ and continue ‘longer’.
To which the police response was a derisory ‘a likely story lads’. They charged both Clayton and Ched with rape, and asked a jury to decide whether she had given consent for the sexual activity that night, was in a fit state to give such consent or, whether – the important bit – she had behaved in such a way as to give Clayton and Ched the reasonable impression that she was so consenting.
The partisan commentators in the media do tend to overlook that consent is not simply a matter of whether ‘she said yes’.
So we have a case where the victim is not actually claiming to have been raped, but may have been. The jury had the benefit of video evidence which allowed them to form the impression that she was a willing partner to Clayton, but they had to surmise how likely it was that she had also given permission to Ched to have intercourse with her, but had no memory of the event.
The answer to that theoretical question rather depends on your own experience of sexual activity. In the event, the jury decided that it was unlikely that she had given such permission and Ched Evans duly went to prison as a ‘rapist’.
The pertinent part of the new evidence that was brought to the re-trial was that this was not the first time nor the only time that a bout of drinking on the part of this young lady had led her to suffer a total lapse of memory as to subsequent events. Whether, and even at 19 one can become ‘alcoholic’, that was as a result of alcoholic amnesia, or a mild form of epilepsy, a neurological condition, we simply don’t know. We do know that there were two witnesses able to attest to her suffering previous memory ‘blanks’ which had resulted in her behaving in an identical fashion and yet having no recall of what she had said or done.
That is evidence that would be accepted by any court, in say a case of driving whilst disqualified. It is known as automatism. Diabetics can be perfectly capable of driving a car across town, purchasing goods, appearing to be in full command of their senses, but not being responsible for their actions. It can, in specific circusmtances, be a defence to a criminal charge.
However, in this case, and only in this case, the ‘similar facts evidence’ concerned her behaviour after drinking sufficient to induce this state. It was, said the witnesses, of an identical sexual pattern to that freely described by Ched Evans on that car journey from Sheffield, before he had legal advice.
In plain English, it supported Ched Evans claim that she appeared to be an enthusiastic and consenting partner.
It was not ‘evidence introduced to trash the witnesses credibility’, nor was it ‘opening the flood gates to the time when women with a previous sexual history were deemed incapable of being raped’.
It doesn’t make her ‘a slapper’ – nor does it make Ched Evans ‘a rapist who got away with it’.
It makes her a very sad 19 year old, without too many prospects – she may well be a genius computer programmer or a world class violinist, but I suspect that a 19 year old in boring Rhuddlan who has taken to drinking more than is good for her and ending up in a kebab shop at 4am, possibly doesn’t have a fantastic job awaiting her at 9am.
She has been so comprehensively vilified and identified on social media that the police were forced to rehouse her in a different town – so she is now a sad 19 year old with a drinking habit, no immediate friends she can rely on, nor surrounding family, alone in a strange town. It seems the only ‘friend’ to whom she could turn, in a series of childish and unwise tweets concerning her intentions for the compensation she got as a result of being named and shamed, was a committed rape campaigner, Guardian columnist, feminist, and Corbyn supporter calling herself Jean Hatchett. Not too much encouragement to get on top of her problems is it?
Prosecuted? Why? For what? For telling the truth?
As for Ched Evans, he has spent two and a half years in prison for a sexual adventure which has now been shown not to have comprised a criminal act. He has lost his job, been out of training for five years, and owes his freedom to the steadfast financial and emotional support of his fiancee and her wealthy father. There goes a recipe for a healthy and equal relationship in the future….
It isn’t the fault of North Wales police that these three young people had their lives ruined and reputations trashed. They merely presented the inconclusive evidence they had to the Crown Prosecution Service.
We have a Crown Prosecution Service headed by a woman who has an unhealthy, bordering on obsessive, interest in prosecuting those with either fame or fortune in respect of their sexual behaviour. The CPS have proved before now that even if Ms ‘X’ had refused to take any part in the prosecution, they could and would proceed with it.
The moment the CPS knew that a famous footballer was involved – the fate of all three parties, Clayton, Ched and Ms ‘X’ was sealed. Now they are hostages to endless social media arguments and petitions.
I feel extraordinarily sorry for all three of them. Three lives went down the drain in Rhuddlan that night.