Juror speaks out over 'inept' sex prosecution
A student spent five months in prison accused of a string of sex attacks before seeing his trial collapse due to prosecutors’ “extraordinarily inept case”.
Kingston College student John Bate, 24, was acquitted of assaults near Teddington Lock after Judge David Higgins expressed serious concerns about victims’ different descriptions of the culprit.
Two women and two teenage girls were assaulted between January and March this year.
Mr Bate, of Simpson Road, Ham, walked free on Thursday, August 2, after the judge directed the jury to find him not guilty of two counts of sexual assault, one count of attempted sexual assault, one count of exposure and one count of assault by beating.
He was arrested on March 17.
Judge Higgins said he doubted the same man was responsible, after victims gave differing descriptions of their attacker’s height and one said he had black hair.
He said police had not taken very full statements and sympathised with the women who gave evidence despite the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) “lamentable” case.
He said: “With the age of the complainants, it’s quite outrageous that they are being exposed to this sort of case management, in circumstances where there are so many questions unanswered and, on the face of it, there’s so much maladministration.
“It’s quite staggering they should be exposed with all that goes with a case of this kind. It’s an extraordinarily inept case in its current form, considering such sensitive allegations of such seriousness for all concerned.”
A juror in the case told the Surrey Comet: “It just seems so wrong that cases like these get to trial and ruin someone’s life without any evidence.
“This case forced victims of a crime to go through their trauma again, what on earth were the police and CPS doing?”
He said he had serious concerns about the evidence he heard, including police asking Mr Bate where he was at 1pm, instead of 1am – the time of one of the attacks.
Officers also did not show a knitted red scarf they seized from the student’s grandmother’s house to the victim who described it, he said.
The CPS said it decided to charge Mr Bate based on evidence police had provided and it was looking into the judge’s concerns.
Officers questioned a second person on March 7 this year, before arresting Mr Bate 10 days later.
A CPS spokesman said: “We are looking into all of the matters raised and will be working with the police.”