Everybody Lies (Part Two)

My second and final court case is now over. It was a rape case...and it was very easy to decide.

Rather than explain all the reasoning, I'll summarise the evidence, which I think speaks for itself.

The accused is a 26 year old Lithuanian casual building site worker. He lived across the street from his accuser with several other East Europeans - who can no longer be contacted.

The accuser is a 19 year old criminology student - the kind who doesn't bother going to lectures. She lived in a house with four other students, none of who knew her well or liked her much. One is an Asian guy (probably Philipino) with a Spanish name - she thought he was Chinese.

Now, according to her, she didn't know the defendant at all well, but accepted an invitation to come and see a little potted plant in his room. In the room, he kissed her and initially she kissed back but then said she didn't want that kind of thing at the time, because she'd just split up with her boyfriend that day.

She finished her cigarette and lit another, not moving to leave. He kissed her again and again she kissed back before saying no.

In some way her shoes came off, but she can't remember why. He asked her to suck him off, but she refused. He switched the light off and she somehow found herself lying on the bed and he was ripping off her skirt and tights.

He got up again to switch the light back on and said he was locking the door. She didn't protest, or get up, or scream for help.

Then he was back on top of her, pinning her arms to the bed with his hands, but also rubbing them over her body. Depending on which part of her testimony you give more credence to, she was either saying "No, no, no" and trying to push him off, or lying passively telling herself it would be alright when he realised she didn't want him.

At some point she stopped being passive, scratching his back and biting him, both hard, both twice - but to no effect.

He lay grinding on top of her for for five minutes, then stopped and stood up. She got out of the room and house, discovering the door was unlocked after all, found the other tenants of her own house and asked to speak with one of them. She told him what had happened and at some point soon after all four of them shared a spliff.

She left to go and stay with her mother who asked "Did he rape you?". She answered, "No". The mother pressured her to go to the police, and when they asked, she said she was unsure. At some point she became sure.

According to the housemates there was no spliff, but she was either in tears or had been crying. The one she confided in couldn't understand a lot of what she was saying - she mentioned "rape" but with such a cloud of indistinct words around it he couldn't be sure what she meant.

The forensic report showed a small scar on the right outer vaginal lip, and no discharge. A swab of the upper vaginal area found the defendant's semen, but because the swab passes through the lower area both going in and coming out, it could actually have come from the outer area - indicating external ejaculation, or very shallow penetration.

Of course, there was also the possibility of seminal leakage without ejaculation.

According to the police interviews with the East European housemates, the boy and girl were drinking and chatting in English, before leaving together, holding hands, she leading.

And so, we come to the defendant's testimony.

According to him, he'd been drinking beer and cider all day but judged that he wasn't extremely drunk - on the grounds that he could still stand.

He knew her slightly, and both got invited into a student house for drinks and chat. They sat on the sofa together, having friendly conversation in English, before he decided to return to his room across the road, and she went with him. This part is rather indistinct.

In his room, he kissed her and she kissed back. He asked her to give him a blowjob and she tried for several minutes, but he was so drunk he couldn't get an erection. On the bed, both naked from the waist down, he tried to put his penis in her vagina, but met with the same problem.

He gave up, and she left, upset, through the door which couldn't be locked because the lock was broken. He and a friend later twice knocked on the front door of the house where she lived, to ask whether she was okay, but she'd left for her mother's home.

Back in bed, he masturbated to ejaculation, slept, and in the morning the police arrested him on suspicion of sexual assault (sticking his fingers in her vagina), to which was later added rape.

In the courtroom, after four days of listening to cross examined testimony, the prosecution summed up his case - rather perfunctorily, and managing to misunderstand some of his own evidence. And then introduced a third charge of Attempted Rape.

It took us jurors under two hours to come to unanimous decisions of Not Guilty on all three charges, delivered by the foreman - yours truly.

There were a lot of considerations, but they all seemed to point in the same direction.

She's tall and strong, he's small and virtually emaciated, so why couldn't she push him off? Why were her shoes off? Why did she stay in the room at all? When she bit him hard, why didn't he even notice - and why did the result look like two love bites?

When he stood up the first time, why did she stay on the bed? Why were her tights undamaged after being ripped off? Why did she only decide she'd been raped later? And the question which came back most often: Why did she never cry out?

I think we're dealing with a sexual experiment which went wrong. I think we're also dealing with a vacillating, easily manipulated young woman, jumping between sexual encounters and relationships (including one engagement), and finding it difficult to form friendships.

She was impatient with questioning, vague on key issues and sometimes downright inconsistent. It seems she's eager to please initially, but at any criticism clams up into resentfulness, dismissing even attempts to help her.

So on the one hand it became easy for the jury to dislike this lady, even if the evidence hadn't undercut her story. On the other...they surprised me by showing no racial prejudice at all towards a foreign national faced with an accusation for which the usual reaction is a kneejerk assumption of guilt.

It was an interesting experience. I just never want to do it again.


  1. Fantastic! Justice is served!

    Outstanding job, More Foreman!

    Wait, why did you have to serve on two cases? Is your jury pool that small? Here, I only have to serve on one trial and that's it.

    Sometimes, people will surprise you and prove that they aren't always stupid when it comes to sorting out the facts. You should be proud of what a great job you and your jurors did in ensuring justice.

  2. Fascinating stuff, Kapo, I've never done jury service, but your account almost makes me want to. Nice write-up, well done.

  3. @Mr Wings:

    Thank you. Occasionally you can use the law to achieve justice.


    The Brisish system is that you get called up for a two week period - plus whatever extra time's needed, if any. You get weekends off.

    If there's one trial that lasts twelve days, you spend two working weeks plus two days on one case. If you get a trial that lasts three days, you'll be told at the end whether the next one starts the next day, or whether (as is usual) you get the rest of the week off, before coming back on monday for a new case.

    In principle you might find yourself doing ten one day cases, but my experience was typical - two five day cases. I imagine the lawyers informally manage their conduct to make each trial five days if they can.


    I was worried that the jury for the second case (four of who were also randomly picked for the first one too) would be difficult. Fully half were not exactly sharp or clear thinkers, and some had trouble with the notions of "speculation", "reasonable doubt" and the difference between "not guilty" and "innocent". The rest of us got quite practiced at patient explanation.

    But in the end, the accuser's story was so full of holes, and the prosecution witnesses so cautious, all I and the sharper jury members had to do was list the evidence to convince the uncertain.


    Much appreciated. Managing a jury and managing a class aren't so different.

  4. ...accepted an invitation to come and see a little potted plant in his room.

    Well that’s a rather novel chat up line.

    Cases of alleged rape can be tricky. But it certainly sounds like you made the right call. Kapitano: defender of truth, justice and socialist way! :-P