I have been following the media reporting on the prosecution of the teenager from Derbyshire on a charge of public nuisance. I must state, in case I am accused of bias, that I am a British qualified lawyer, although I am an Irish citizen with strong republican loyalties and therefore do not support the defendant on grounds of national prejudice.
As I understand the matter, the alleged offence can be defined in the following terms: “knowingly providing the police with a false statement, concerning an imaginary defence.”
In my humble opinion the charge requires consideration of two substantive aspects. The first relates to the provision of a false statement to the police. The second aspect, which I understand that the judge preferred largely to discount, was whether there had been an ‘imaginary offence’ or if the large group of Israeli males had indeed been involved in a collective rape of the defendant. It must be emphasised at this stage that the defendant is entitled to the benefit of reasonable doubt, such that the court is sure of the guilt of the defendant. Nothing in the detailed case reporting, including that of your newspaper, suggests that the case was considered in this correct criminal trial context. The preference of the evidence of one doctor over the defence pathologist, suggests a view taken on the balance of probabilities, which is the civil case standard of proof. Similarly the police evidence was preferred over that of a vulnerable teenager, without any benefit of doubt being considered.
There are many other legal deficiencies in the trial process to which I could refer, but for the sake of comparative brevity, I will conclude with a point that arises from my extensive experience of criminal trials. The interview of the young female defendant by two male police officer took eight hours. In my experience after hours of being badgered by the police, many older and more plucky accused persons, seek to bring their interrogative suffering to an end, by cooperating with the police and retracting earlier statements.
Memories of the Guildford Four bombing trial in England come to mind. The police were believed and years later their evidence was found to be “imaginary”.
If my scenario above is incorrect why did it take eight hours, for a soft target, like this vulnerable, teenage accused person, to retract her earlier complaint? Perhaps the police were giving her chocolates and they were watching videos?
There are many other matters that I could refer to, such as the sensitivity of the Cyprus Government to the citizens of their friendly neighbour Israel, but I will confine myself to the legal points above and let others put forward what might be compelling conspiracy theories. I leave your readers to consider the legal points that I have referred to.
JC Patrick Elston, solicitor, Nicosia