High Court judge criticises sex attack victim for 'foolishness'

‘I’m sure it was a frightening incident. She got very, very drunk. It doesn’t excuse what happened, but people have to make sure they protect themselves and guard against this, she made herself very vulnerable’

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The Independent Online

One of Britain’s top judges castigated a sexual assault victim for “foolishness” for getting drunk on the night she was attacked. 

High Court judge Andrew Gilbart made the remarks during sentencing of 18-year-old Yaqoob Alanezy at Manchester Crown Court. 

Alanezy pleaded guilty to sexual assault and kidnap after he put his arms around the 20-year-old victim, kissed her and then dragged her 30 yards down a street in south Manchester on 20 August 2016, the Manchester Evening News reported

The woman had found herself in an unfamiliar area of town after going to a flat with two men she met that night while drinking in the city centre, the court heard. 

After falling asleep at the flat, she left in the early hours, and was attacked by Alanezy shortly after, the court was told. 

A passerby witnessed the attack and intervened, shouting: “Oi,” causing Alanezy to flee the scene. 

The High Court judge said the victim only had a “befuddled recollection of events”.

“I’m sure it was a frightening incident. She got very, very drunk. It doesn’t excuse what happened, but people have to make sure they protect themselves and guard against this, she made herself very vulnerable,” he told the court. 

“The law seeks to protect victims such as this from their own foolishness. The complainant had got herself drunk, was in a public place, unable to protect herself and the law must be seen to protect vulnerable people from being picked on by those who spot their vulnerability and choose to attack them.”

Alanezy, who is from Kuwait, has now been given 22 months in a young offenders institution and been served with deportation papers. 

His defence lawyer Oliver Jarvis said the offence happened shortly after his 18th birthday and his “supportive family” were determined to keep him on the right track.

“He tells me he’s deeply ashamed and deeply embarrassed,” Mr Jarvis told the court.

“In Kuwait there’s no alcohol and the defendant came over here, tried alcohol for the first time and it’s been a real problem since, as a way of dealing with deep boredom.

“He makes no excuses, he had half a bottle of vodka that night and out he went into the street. This is not something that will be repeated. He’s very, very isolated in prison. He doesn’t speak any English, there’s a Libyan person he speaks to sometimes, but otherwise he keeps himself to himself and is really rather confused by everything, other than shame at the offending.”

The Survivors Trust chief executive Fay Maxted accused the judge of “victim blaming”. 

“This is something that has been going on for decades, this victim blaming as opposed to looking at the behaviour of the perpetrator. Research has shown time and time again that attitudes towards victims from judges and barristers can be really punishing,” she told the MEN. “It is really disturbing and can have a massive impact. Comments like the ones made in court can deter victims from coming forward.If you report a burglary people don’t criticise you for leaving the curtains open. It should not be happening.”

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