They gave their closing arguments and sent the jury out. From that moment on, it felt like time slowed down. Every second felt like a minute, every minute felt like an hour. What was taking them so long? Surely it was obvious. The jury were sent home. I hope that we would get a decision the next day. My sister’s reassured me it was a really strong case; 5 people, most of whom don’t know each other, all saying the same thing. In my case I had told friends from the age of 8 right up to present day. I had told a teacher. I had told my doctor. I had spent nearly £10,000 on counselling. Surely that is compelling enough just on its own?
Around 3 o’clock the next day, I got the call. I just knew it wasn’t good. “it’s not the result we wanted but it’s not all bad”. Of the 15 charges, 3 not guilty (one against me, the most serious charge against me), and a hung jury on the rest. Are you ok? She asked. I just went very quiet. They have set a date for retrial, if you want to proceed. I do, I said. I was not giving up. Not now. Not that we had got this far. If I had to go through it again, so would he.
Whenever I had a wobble, I would think; I need to do this for the others. Whatever happened, he would be dragged to court again and all those members of the court and jury would see exactly what he was.
No matter what happened, I hadn’t kept his secret. He didn’t silence me. And I had found my voice and the strength to speak out, something he never thought I would do.
I told friends, I told my husband. None of them could comprehend it… so 3 not guilty bit guilty on the rest, right?
So a retrial on all counts including the not guilty verdicts?
It just didn’t make any sense. How can me having told people the same thing from around the age of 8 until now not be enough? How can the fact is spent nearly £10,000 on counselling 12-20 years ago not be enough? How can the fact I told my GP and a teacher not be enough? How can 5 people who mostly don’t know each other all saying the same thing nor be enough?
When a police officer points out you are a victim that is devastating. What’s even more devastating is when 12 people who don’t know you tell you, you are not.
The trial continued for another 2 weeks after I gave evidence. I went home, went back to work and tried to continue with everyday life, I tried not to think of what was going on in court and the lies he was telling. A friend of mine went and watched his cross examination. She said he was a sweaty mess, he seemed to make things worse with every answer. I was hopeful of getting the right verdict. The last week was agony, waiting for the verdict. When the call finally came it was crushing.
The jury had decided not guilty on 3 charges (one against me, one against my sister, one against another victim) and were undecided on all of the remaining counts.
A hung jury. I couldn’t compute how those people could have sat there for all those weeks and not understood what this man was. That they simply didn’t know.
I sobbed down the phone to the Detective Constable. The bottom had just fallen out of my world.
For years I had thought I couldn’t remember enough. Turns out I was right.
There were more blows to come. Despite telling me there were 3 charges against me, the CPS had only indicted him for one. Something that no one had thought to pass on to me. So that was it for me. Game over.
There was to be another trial, the following January, for the remaining charges, but only 3 victims this time as another victim had also been eliminated with the acquittals.
They wanted me to give evidence again to support me sister. The thought of going through it all again made me feel sick, but we had to try again. We had come too far to give up. We had to try and stop this man. I had to focus on that. I couldn’t think too hard about the fact that the jury had found reasonable doubt for me.
I had been forced to unpack all this stuff that I had compartmentalised for years and years and then it felt like I was left with it all over the floor and somehow I had to put it away for 6 months for my sake and the sake of my family.
The trial had felt like a wall I hadn’t been able to see beyond. I had tunnel vision, it was something we had to climb. As we had gotten nearer to the court date, I had tried to arrange some nice things to look forward to. I was so bitter that these nice things were no longer after, as it wasn’t the end. I cried so much. It was meant to be over. It felt like it never would be.
I don’t know how I got through those 6 months but I had to just put my head down again and go one day at a time. “Don’t look down” my older sister told us. I became a bit gym mad. I felt like if I was physically stronger then maybe I would be mentally stronger too. I kept telling people I wanted to feel like I could punch someone.
The first verdict made me feel sick and angry. The fact that there was a hung jury to me was obscene and completely sickening. He has gotten away with it. Those were my first thoughts. I really could not believe it. I remember pacing up and down my small bathroom in a shared flat in South London, just reeling with anger.
It had taken the jury 2 days to reach a verdict and this is what they had decided, I was beside myself with tears and anger. “How could this have happened?” I kept asking myself.
He was guilty. Anyone could see that. He had put us all through so much. How could he possibly walk free? I just felt so drained. So lifeless. Like all the air had been sucked out of me. At this point I just wanted to give up. But I knew I had to carry on. I had to keep fighting for justice. So when the police officer asked me “Do you want to go to trial again?”, without a shadow of a doubt I said “yes”! Because there was no way he was going to get away with this.
I was so fuelled by anger and I decided that I would go to trial again. The date was set for 6 months time. Part of me felt broken, but I knew I needed to stay strong. I needed to try again.
I watched my phone, trying never to be too far from it. In case it rang with news. I mentally was pacing around. All the time going about my day as best I could. Counting down the days. Then it rang, my heart skipped a beat.
My stomach turned and I could hear in her voice it wasn’t good news. We had a hung jury. I felt like the work was slipping away from me. In truth, it was just my tears at the pain. I sat there in silence. I’m not sure for how long but I was just trying to get myself together enough to go back into work. I sat back at my desk, and that’s when it rushed over me. She said I had got a hung jury. But my cousin had got a not guilty. And that’s when it hit me. I fell to pieces. I knew that I would have to go through it all again, I had to because I needed to get justice for both of us.
The wait seemed long, every time my phone beeped I jumped..and then I got the call , the jury found him not guilty on 3 counts including my sexual assault and inconclusive on the rest of the charges, the police officer was trying to talk to me about a retrial but I just hung up on her, I couldn’t speak..it was like I had been slapped in the face.. So having been put through all this and giving evidence in court, he got a not guilty verdict at his first trial. I don’t know if I was more angry or upset.. I know I couldn’t stop crying.
I called my husband in tears, he came straight home. I called my parents I couldn’t speak. After all I had been through how could he have gotten away with it?!!
I remember emailing my cousin , one of the other victims..My email just said ” what the fuck?” I don’t recall her response but she seemed as much in shock as I was
The police officer was brilliant, she emailed me exactly what I needed to hear ” just because the jury found him not guilty , doesn’t mean they didn’t believe you..the evidence just wasn’t strong enough for a conviction”
The police asked if I would stand as a bad character witness at the retrial, my family didn’t understand why I wanted to put myself through it all again but I knew I would come to regret it if I didn’t.
As my trial was over, I was able to do group therapy at a rape crisis centre. It was great, all those feelings, thoughts and doubts about yourself were echoed by people. I was not crazy cos other people felt that way too.