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Student criticises police after college ball rape case collapses

Published 12/04/2016

James Martin said he had been treated by police as guilty until proven innocent
James Martin said he had been treated by police as guilty until proven innocent

One of four students accused of raping a woman at an annual college ball has criticised the police investigation after the case against them collapsed.

James Martin, 20, said he along with co-accused Thady Duff, 22, Leo Mahon, 22, and Patrick Foster, 22, had been treated as "guilty until proven innocent" by officers who acted in a way to "better themselves" before the case came to court.

All four men had denied charges alleged to have been committed against the same woman at the end-of-year ball at the prestigious Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, in May 2014.

However the men were not charged for 13 months, impacting on their studies and personal lives, relatives said.

Prosecutors at Gloucester Crown Court offered no evidence against the men on Monday, following issues over the late disclosure of material to the defence.

Mr Martin, an amateur jockey from the village of Swerford near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, faced one charge of rape and told the Daily Mail the police investigation had been "devastating".

He said: "If they had done their job properly it would have been over a long time ago and I would have years of my life back."

His barrister, Edward Henry, said the probe had been "one long exercise in bias".

Mr Henry, along with Eleanor Laws QC, representing Mr Duff, Jane Bickerstaff QC, representing Mr Mahon, and Kieran Vaughan QC, representing Mr Foster, said they would be seeking to recover their clients' legal costs.

The silks, who were privately-funded, all criticised the police's handling of the case.

The complainant, who cannot be named, made the allegation of rape after footage of the group having sex was shared over Snapchat, a social media platform.

Mr Martin said having the case loom over him had affected his perception of people and ability to trust them.

Turning his attention to the police, he told the newspaper: "It just seems like something out of the 80s. You don't expect to see the police do this to better themselves."

His mother, Julia, said: "I have seen my son change. The day we heard the case was closed, I got my son back."

Mr Mahon, of Lawrence Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, faced three charges of rape and two charges of assault by penetration.

Mr Foster, of Maldon Road, Kelvedon, Colchester, Essex, faced one charge of rape and two charges of assault by penetration.

Mr Duff, of Stubbs Hill Farm, Blunsdon, Swindon, Wiltshire, faced three charges of rape and a charge of sexual assault against the same woman which is alleged to have been carried out between October 1 and 31 2013.

His mother, Melanie, a former Conservative councillor in Swindon, said her son now faced the task of rebuilding his life.

"It is something which has been hanging over their heads," she told the newspaper.

While the case was ongoing the men were reportedly barred from collecting their degrees from the college, rated the Oxbridge of agricultural studies.

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