Supreme Court judge criticises ‘inherently unfair’ rape trial conduct



JusticeA Supreme Court judge has criticised the conduct of Irish rape trials for allowing denials from the accused to be read to the jury without cross-examination.

Writing in the Irish Judicial Studies Journal, Mr Justice Peter Charleton and researcher Ciara Herlihy said the practice was not allowed in the Scottish courts for “good reason”.

Of the 74 rape and serious sexual assault cases which proceeded to trial in the Central Criminal Court in 2017, an “exculpatory statement made by the accused to the effect that the complainant had consented” was put before the jury in 23 cases.

The accused only gave evidence and was cross-examined in three of the 23 cases.

Of the 51 cases that proceeded to trial in 2016 and had since concluded, the accused gave evidence and was cross-examined in 15 cases. An exculpatory statement was put before the jury in 16 cases, and the accused was cross-examined in only five of them.

Mr Justice Charleton wrote: “It can be argued to be inherently unfair to try a case on the basis that a woman asserting rape must give live evidence in court and must be questioned twice, once by the prosecution and once by the defence, but the man denying it can just recount to the police in the privacy of a Garda station a salacious narrative of how everything between the alleged victim and him was consensual.”



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