Man wins his appeal against conviction for raping daughter
A man who was jailed for raping and abusing his daughter has won his appeal against conviction.
Senior judges in Belfast ruled that issues around so-called bad character evidence and directions to the jury rendered their guilty verdicts against the 64-year-old unsafe.
Even though the alleged victim has waived her right to anonymity, her father cannot be named because he still faces a possible retrial.
He was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment after being convicted of raping and indecently assaulting his daughter.
It had been claimed that the abuse began more than two decades ago when she was aged just six.
In a case with no independent evidence she alleged that her father molested her over a seven-year period in and outside the family home.
Police began to investigate the case after being contacted in 2013.
Jurors had to decide on her word against that of her father who denied the offences. Lawyers for the man centred their appeal on how bad character evidence was dealt with at trial.
Issues were also raised about the circumstances in which a trial judge should direct the jury on lies and the admission of complaint evidence.
Material admitted by agreement included claims by the alleged victim that her father was controlling and intimidating within the home, describing him as "a monster".
But the man accused her of making up complaints because his wife had accepted him back after a period of estrangement.
The Court of Appeal held that a direction should have been given to the jury on whether any lie on this point was deliberate or relevant to the charges.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan also pointed out how the alleged victim made disclosures to a friend and a relative after she became an adult.
"This was indeed a case in which there was a conflict between the complainant and the alleged offender and no independent evidence on the central issues," he said.
"There was no direction to the jury reminding them that the source of the complaint evidence was the complainant and that it was not independent evidence supporting the complainant's case."
Identifying a failure to give proper advice on how to use bad character material, Sir Declan confirmed: "None of this happened and in our view the conviction is unsafe.
"It is important in any case that the trial judge is assisted by counsel in directing the jury properly, but that is particularly important in historic sex cases where there is no independent evidence and the jury is faced with one person's word against another."
A decision on whether to order a retrial is expected to be made within the next two weeks.