Top judge expresses regret over rape case

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The Independent Online
THE MOST senior judge in Scotland yesterday FRI expressed 'regret' over a case in which a convicted rapist was released from jail after serving just three weeks of his five-year sentence.

In a letter to the parents of 'Katie', the 16-year-old rape victim, Lord Hope said he 'very much regrets the anxiety and distress which the case has caused both to you and to your daughter'.

Annunziato di Luca, 30, from Bathgate, near Edinburgh, was convicted of raping Katie , who was a virgin, in January and sentenced to five years in prison. He appealed and at a private hearing Lord Morison, a High Court judge, granted him 'interim liberation' bail pending his appeal.

Neither the teenager's family nor the police were informed of the decision and they only discovered that di Luca was free when an inmate, who had met him in Saughton prison near Edinburgh, wrote to a newspaper. to express his disgust at his release.

On Wednesday, Katie, through her parents, wrote to Lord Hope to express her 'anger and distress' at the at Lord Morison's decision. She said: 'After di Luca was convicted I felt safe for the first time since I was raped. With the help of psychologists, I began to rebuild my life. But when I found out he had been set free, I suffered a relapse.' It still feels as if it had just happened yesterday.'

Replying to Katie's parents on behalf of Lord Hope, the Principal Clerk of the Supreme Court in Edinburgh said that the appeal would be heard 'as soon as reasonably practicable'. Katie's mother, a financial controller, welcomed Lord Hope's response. She said: 'It suggests to me that a mistake has been made.'

Next week Katie is to write to Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the Scottish home affairs minister, to demand a change in the law to ensure that convicted rapists are denied bail pending appeal and victims are informed if their attacker is freed.

Her call was supported yesterday by a man who was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for rape, but whose conviction was overturned on appeal. David Forrest, 36, who served seven months in prison before his appeal, said: 'The victim or alleged victim has a right to know if her alleged attacker is back on the streets.'