Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Rape victims 'a piece of evidence'

Gabrielle Browne told Kenneth Clarke that rape victims were given no consideration

The sex attack victim who broke down in tears as she denounced Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke's sentencing proposals as a "disaster" has said victims are given no consideration and treated "like a piece of evidence".

Mother-of-two Gabrielle Browne, who met Mr Clarke for an hour on Tuesday, backed the recommendations of a landmark review of rape cases which found that every victim should be offered the support of a specialist adviser to help them keep faith in the criminal justice system.

But Ms Browne, 45, told Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 5 Live that she had been persuaded that Mr Clarke's plans to halve sentences for offenders who plead guilty at the point they are charged were "fair enough" in an attempt to reduce the victims' trauma and cut costs.

Ms Browne said: "For every victim of crime, especially those of sexual offences, I would like the criminal justice system to consider a victim throughout the process. At the moment a victim is treated like a piece of evidence in an evidence bag."

She added that, when going through the process, a victim is an "emotionally raw person who doesn't want to be told they're the bottom of the pile, as I was".

While there was often consideration for the offender, there was "no consideration" for the victim, she said. Mr Clarke met Ms Browne, the victim of an attempted rape, after he sparked uproar by suggesting some rapes were more serious than others.

She said she had fought for 688 days to have her attacker brought to justice, only for him to have his sentence reduced for a guilty plea.

She called BBC Radio 5 Live last week as Mr Clarke was explaining his proposals - now not expected until later this summer - to halve the sentences for offenders who plead guilty early.

But, under pressure from 10 Downing Street, Mr Clarke apologised for his comments and offered to meet Ms Browne, who has waived her right to anonymity.

"I thought it was a very positive meeting," she said, adding that she did not feel she had been "rubber-stamped" or that Mr Clarke was just going through the motions.

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz