Two women who brought the first private prosecution for rape and indecent assault after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped their cases saw their attacker jailed for 14 years yesterday.
Coming the week after a London family - in another private prosecution - succeeded in committing for trial two men accused of killing their son, the case again calls into question the CPS's judgement and code of practice. Earlier this year it was accused of a reluctance to take sex offenders to court.
Jailing Christopher Davies, 44, a chef and plasterer, the judge at Maidstone Crown Court told him yesterday: "This was an extremely serious rape and you remain a danger to women."
Davies, from Margate, Kent, had denied all charges claiming that the two women, both prostitutes, had consented to everything. But earlier this year, he was found guilty of one charge of rape, two of indecent assault, two of causing actual bodily harm and one of false imprisonment. He was cleared on another count of rape, false imprisonment and wounding.
It emerged after the verdict that Davies had served a 12-month jail term in 1988 for attempting to kidnap a 20-year-old woman. He held a knife to her throat but was scared off by a passing motorist. The court had heard that he had made appointments with the prostitutes before the attacks, which he carried out at his home.
In the first, in December 1991, he took one of the prostitutes to his bedroom, where he tied her up and threatened her with a kitchen knife before raping and indecently assaulting her.
In the second, nearly a year later, he held a knife to the woman's throat before tying her up and sexually assaulting her. Both women went to the police, who arrested Davies, but he was released when the CPS decided not to proceed. The women then took legal advice and launched their private prosecution.
After the sentence, one of the prostitutes, who cannot be identified because she is a rape victim, said they had been forced to take the law into their own hands "to gain justice". "This case has proved all women have the right to say no, whatever the circumstances," she said. But she added that they had only been able to pursue the case with the support of Women Against Rape and the English Collective of Prostitutes - the costs and difficulties of a private prosecution meant most women were denied such an option.
Earlier this year, a report compiled by Women against Rape and Legal Action for Women concluded that the chances of a rape case coming to court have fallen dramatically in recent years - despite more alleged victims coming forward.
The CPS said yesterday that it took all allegations of rape seriously and each case was considered carefully in line with the code of practice for Crown prosecutors.
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