Letter: Implications of a rape verdict

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The Independent Online
Sir: Having served on the jury of a rape case, I find it difficult to understand how someone can be found guilty and sentenced to eight years in a trial that lasted just a few days ('Taxi driver jailed for rape in cab', 23 July). There were no witnesses, the victim was not beaten or threatened with a weapon, the defendant did not deny having sex with the victim and he gave himself up three times.

There are calls to outlaw uncorroborated confessions; witness identification, and even forensic evidence, has proved to be unreliable. Yet a man can be found guilty and sent to prison on the word of one other person.

The implications are frightening. After having sex, could it not be possible for a woman to go to a police station and say she has been raped? She does not need to be beaten, she does not need witnesses - just her word. I also wonder how many women who have been raped will be frightened to report it to the police because of the prospect of such a sentence for the accused.

I well remember a fellow juror becoming hysterical and crying after she heard the judge announce that the person she had just helped to find guilty of rape was sentenced to seven years. We were all shocked, because in that case the defendant had not beaten the victim or threatened her with a weapon and had not denied having sex. Could it even be possible that future juries will be inhibited? I can think of no other crime where someone could be convicted on the word of one person.

As for the implications for the licensed taxi industry, these are not as worrying as they are for society as a whole. The public are not stupid enough to condemn thousands of men and women on the action of one man who has turned his back on common sense and common decency.

Yours,

ANTHONY BROOKMAN

Chief Executive

Society of Professional Licensed Taxi Drivers

London, N4

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