Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

No apology from Twitter case woman

Gemma Thomas, 18, took to Twitter days after her cousin's conviction naming the victim

A teenager convicted of a naming a rape victim on Twitter refused to apologise to her and said paying compensation was "the last thing" she wanted to do.

The victim's name was circulated on Twitter and Facebook after footballer Ched Evans was convicted of raping her at Caernarfon Crown Court in April.

Last month Evans's cousin, Gemma Thomas, and eight other defendants were each ordered to pay the victim £624 in one of the first cases of its kind, after they admitted revealing her identity on social networks.

Thomas, 18, took to Twitter days after her cousin's conviction naming the victim and calling her a "money-grabbing slut" and accusing her of "ruining lives".

Speaking on the Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC Radio 5 Live, Thomas said she regretted her actions but continued to stand by her cousin, who she said was innocent, and refused to offer a direct apology to the victim.

Thomas said when she was initially told about the punishment, she thought it was a fine. When her solicitor explained it was compensation she said she "went silent for an hour" and said she "couldn't believe it". Asked why, Thomas responded: "Because it's the last thing I wanted to do, pay her compensation."

"I understand it's against the law and I wouldn't have minded having a big fine because I understand what I did was wrong, but it's the fact that it's compensation and it's just ... I don't know, it's hard thinking that I have got to pay compensation, knowing that I know my cousin is innocent."

Thomas, from Rhyl, North Wales, said the fact that a jury convicted Evans of rape did not change her view and said she had been writing him letters. She said: "Ched's my cousin and I'm thinking about how he's feeling and how he's feeling being in prison, knowing that he's innocent."

Derbyshire said: "In the eyes of the law, he's a rapist." Thomas responded: "Not in my eyes."

Thomas said she did regret what she had done and the fact that it might stop other victims of rape coming forward. She accepted what she did was wrong and apologised for her actions, but when asked if she would offer an apology directly to Evans's victim, said: "I don't know. No."

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