Woman wins first stage in legal challenge over decision not to bring rape claim to court
Published 25/06/2013 | 17:12
A Belfast woman who claims she was the victim of a date rape which left her pregnant today cleared the first stage in her legal challenge to a decision not to bring a prosecution.
She was granted leave to seek to judicially review the authorities for not reviewing a complaint against the man she accused of imprisoning and sexually attacking her.
A judge at the High Court ruled that an arguable case has been established.
Neither the woman nor the man she alleges raped her can be identified.
Her challenge relates to a Public Prosecution Service (PPS) decision last year not to pursue a case against the man.
A lack of independent evidence led to the conclusion that securing a conviction was unlikely, the court heard.
Proceedings were initiated once the PPS confirmed in March that it would not being carrying out a review.
The woman's barrister, Dessie Hutton, said the view of prosecutors was not accepted.
"To say there's no reasonable prospect of a conviction is tantamount to the PPS imposing a corroboration requirement in date rape cases for the purposes of satisfying the test for prosecution," he argued.
He told the court his client knew the man and had slept with him twice before the night she claims to have been raped.
On both those previous occasions she made no complaints about what had been consensual sex.
Mr Hutton said on the night in question the woman had been out, met up with the man and went back to his house.
"She wouldn't have been ill-disposed to having relations with him," the barrister said.
"But (she says) he became sexually violent, forceful and she withheld her consent.
"Notwithstanding that, he (allegedly) forced her to perform various acts and he inflicted a number of rapes upon her and also physically assaulted her and for a period falsely imprisoned her."
The incident was reported to her parents, police and GP, the court heard.
Mr Hutton disclosed that the woman ultimately discovered she was pregnant as a result of the alleged rape.
Despite being left shocked, distressed and suffering panic attacks, she wants the man to be prosecuted.
A barrister for the PPS said the decision reached in the case followed a consultation with the woman and her solicitor.
Advice was also received from independent counsel.
The court was also told while the PPS has to look for independent evidence, a further test of corroboration has not been adopted.
After hearing submissions, Mr Justice Treacy held that the woman's challenge passed the test for allowing the case to continue.
Granting leave to apply for a judicial review, he said: "I'm satisfied that the applicant has established an arguable case that requires to be considered by a full Divisional Court."
Mr Justice Treacy stressed that his decision was no indication of the ultimate outcome.
A full hearing will take place in December.