'Diabolical failures' that led to rape case collapse

Michelle accused the CPS of "diabolical" failures

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

A week after they met by chance, Ian turned up at Michelle's house, despite Michelle not giving him her address.

For legal reasons Ian and Michelle are not their real names.

Michelle, who was young and had not had a boyfriend before, did not realise his behaviour was highly unusual. 

"Within a week he invited me over to his place to watch a movie in his bedroom", she told talkRADIO. "I just assumed it was to watch a movie. That was when he first raped me."

It was the start of two years of turmoil.

"Within about six months he'd forced me to move in with him. He turned me against all my family. He was controlling everything I did. He had to know where I was and what I was doing at all times of the day. 

"It went from bad to worse. He would insist on feeding me and washing me. He carried me around everywhere. I couldn't go to the toilet without him. He'd be with me continuously, like a leech. My whole life revolved around him and what he said I could do."

Michelle describes how Ian threatened to kill her and threatened her parents. 

"I know these were things that he would do. So I couldn't leave because I was so scared of him."


His first prison sentence

Ian was jailed for a separate offence and forced Michelle to write him letters while he was in prison.

Michelle explains: "I had to write six or seven times a day, telling him exactly what I was doing. He would tell me what to put in the letters and wanted them more sexual. There ended up being hundreds of them."

On his release Ian kept Michelle on the sofa for three days.

"I wasn't allowed to eat or drink or move. If I did he would scream and go into a violent rage. The only time I was allowed to move was when he wanted sex."

One day Ian left the front door slightly ajar as he answered texts on Michelle's phone, pretending to be her.

"He was distracted and I managed to slip out and run to my parents house without any shoes on in the rain."

The police were called and Ian was taken into custody.


'Diabolical failures'

Michelle claims she was let down from the outset as her case proceeded through the system.

Ian was charged with false imprisonment and multiple counts of rape.

When she arrived at court she recounts being put in the same room as his family.

After being taken to a separate room to give her evidence via video link, Michelle says "they didn't know how to work the equipment", which resulted in the judge appearing upside down to her.

"They gave me what they called a support worker. She took her shoes off and was picking her feet. She was totally oblivious to how I was feeling."

The next day devastated her. 

The letters she had written to Ian while he was in prison were produced, and the rape charges against him were dropped.

Michelle told talkRADIO: "Anyone with an ounce of sense would know why I had to write those letters, but they didn't even give me a chance to explain in court. They just made the decision themselves."


'Living in fear'

Ian was sentenced indefinitely for false imprisonment.

But, less than four years later Michelle discovered the man who once attacked her with a hunting knife was free again.

Michelle added: "It feels like I'm the one who's being punished. I'm living in constant fear."

She believes the legal system will let down other women: "These people are allowed to walk the streets because the authorities are not listening. He is a rapist for God's sake, and he is not even on the sex offender's register."

The CPS told talkRADIO: "After we received new evidence we determined there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction for rape", adding that "we appreciate the decision was disappointing for the victim".

Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "New court rules require judges to consider further measures to help individuals give evidence."

Regarding Ian's release, the spokesperson added that offenders in such circumstances "are usually subject to conditions that prevent them from contacting or going close to their victims."