Three rapists jailed in case that highlights important issues around consent

13 Feb 2015

Three men have today (Friday 13th February) been jailed for a combined total of 18 years for the rape and sexual assault of a 23-year-old woman.

The issue central to the prosecution was that the victim lacked the capacity to consent to the sexual activity.

The trial had previously been suspended for a number of days after the trial judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to put before a jury on the basis that a lack of memory does not amount to a lack of capacity to consent.

The prosecution sought a ruling from the Court of Appeal, arguing that the full context needed to be taken into consideration when considering the issue of consent, including mobile phone footage taken by one of the defendants and blood tests demonstrating a high level alcohol in the victim's blood. The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the prosecution and the trial continued.

Lawrence English, CPS East Midlands Senior District Crown Prosecutor, said: "This was rape as it was clear the woman was in no state to consent to sex. While it is, of course, true that lack of memory, on its own, does not prove lack of consent, the context in this case showed that this victim was taken advantage of because she was incapacitated, and that she could not have consented to sexual activity.

"It is against the law to engage in sexual activity with someone who is clearly unable, through drink, to give their consent. We are pleased that the Court of Appeal ruled in the way it did and the case proceeded to the jury for a verdict.

"The victim in this case has shown tremendous courage in this case. She suffered an horrific ordeal because of the actions of these three men and we are satisfied to see justice has been served."

Rape Crisis national spokeswoman Katie Russell said:

"We welcome today's outcome and the justice it represents for the survivor of sexual violence at the centre of this case.

We're particularly pleased by the determination shown by both the Crown Prosecution Service and the Court of Appeal in ensuring that a jury was given the opportunity to assess the evidence and proceed to a verdict.

This episode highlights the ongoing need for those both within and outside of the legal system to continue to raise awareness and understanding of the fact that consent must be freely and fully given by someone with the capacity to do so; such education is crucial not only to justice for survivors but also to reducing sexual violence.

It is equally vital that all sexual violence survivors receive social justice, in the form of access to specialist, independent support services, regardless of whether or not they choose to report to the police."

On 28 January 2015, the Director of Public Prosecution, Alison Saunders, launched toolkits for police and prosecutors on the issue of consent.

For the first time, the toolkits spell out situations where a potential victim may have been unable to consent due to incapacity through drink or drugs, for example; find further information here.