Belfast Telegraph

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Boy with learning difficulties loses legal challenge over decision not to prosecute youth he claims raped him

By Alan Erwin

Published 23/06/2015

The accused was released on bail.
The accused was released on bail.

A boy with learning difficulties has lost a legal challenge to the decision not to prosecute a youth he claims raped him.

High Court judges in Belfast dismissed the 14-year-old's case after identifying fundamental flaws in his account of the alleged sex attack.

The boy, identified only as X, claimed he was raped at his grandmother's farm during the summer of 2012.

He told police he had been working in a field when a 16-year-old youth referred to as Y trailed him into a shed and subjected him to a sexual assault.

A file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service, but it was decided at a senior level that the evidential test was not met.

Judicial review proceedings were issued on behalf of X - classed as having moderate learning difficulties - by his father.

Lawyers were seeking to quash PPS conclusions not to prosecute Y based on the prospects of securing a conviction against Y.

They claimed the decision was unlawful and had left a vulnerable young person beyond the protection of the law.

But a panel of three judges held that there was was nothing perverse about either the decision or a review process.

Both an experienced regional prosecutor and a QC had considered the merits of the case, the court heard.

Lord Justice Gillen pointed to the lack of any medical, forensic or independent evidence.

Identifying further issues of credibility, he said: "X's account is fundamentally flawed and provides no foundation for a prosecution."

Although the judge acknowledged the boy's moderate learning difficulties were a factor, he held that these were properly dealt with by police, the PPS and senior counsel.

Nothing in a special education provisions report for the child "would account for the weaknesses in his narrative", he added.

Refusing leave to seek a judicial review, Lord Justice Gillen noted that Y - through his solicitor - denied being in the shed, accepted "playing" with X and made a no-comment interview.

But he ruled: "None of these factors, individually or cumulatively, is sufficient to adequately redress the inherent weaknesses in X's account."

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