Rapist who warned victim she would be ‘going 10 feet under’ loses appeal

Man convicted of rape and sexual assault of child sentenced to 12 years in prison

The man was convicted by a  jury in 2014 of eight counts of sexual assault and four counts of rape. File photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

The man was convicted by a jury in 2014 of eight counts of sexual assault and four counts of rape. File photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

 

A rapist, who warned his victim that she would be “going 10 feet under” if she exposed the abuse, has lost an appeal against his conviction.

The man, who can’t be named to protect his victim’s identity, was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury in 2014 of eight counts of sexual assault and four counts of rape. In May 2014 he was sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison.

His trial heard that the victim was the daughter of the defendant’s partner. She was aged between six and 11 when the abuse occurred from June 2003 to May 2008. She made a complaint to social services in 2008 and was interviewed by specialist interviewers in 2010.

DVD recordings of those interviews were shown as evidence to the jury. She told the interviewers that the abuse started in the family home with touching and progressed to oral rape and vaginal rape. After being raped, she said he warned her that if she told anyone she “would be going 10 feet under.”

Lawyers for the man had argued before the three-judge Court of Appeal that major damage was caused to the defence by the death of the victim’s grandmother, who had given evidence in a previous trial that had ended in a jury disagreement. The defence wanted to cross-examine the grandmother to suggest to the jury that the complainant had been “put up to it” by her grandmother who, it was said, did not like the accused.

The man’s lawyers also argued that the trial judge erred by allowing the DVD of the complainant’s interviews to be shown and in allowing her to give her evidence by video-link rather than in court.

Delivering judgement on Monday President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said that “the occasions on which a trial will be halted because of the death of a witness are likely to be few and far between.” He pointed out that the defence was free to read to the jury transcripts of the grandmother’s evidence from the previous trial and therefore there was no unfairness caused by her death.

Addressing the video-link evidence, he said the law now requires underage complainants to give evidence by video-link except where the trial judge sees good reason for the child to attend in person. Mr Justice Birmingham found there was no such good reason in this case. He also dismissed the complaint about the DVD, saying there was no substance to the defence’s argument that the jury might have heard something they shouldn’t have from the DVDs.

Further grounds of appeal, dealing with decisions by the trial judge on admissibility of evidence, were also rejected.