R v H – Historic child sexual abuse, Guildford Crown Court

Andy was instructed to act for his client at his re-trial in relation to historic sexual abuse allegations, including sexual assault and assault by penetration made against him by his stepdaughter. The abuse was alleged to have taken place when the complainant was aged 11-13 years old.

At his original trial the client had been convicted of two counts of possession of indecent images, the Jury being unable to return a verdict on the remaining 8 counts. Andy took over the conduct of the case from the client’s previous solicitors at this point.

At his re-trial, lasting over 2 weeks, the convictions for making indecent images were admitted in evidence as bad character ‘background’ evidence, including the fact that some images were said to have been created just minutes before the client’s arrest. Despite this, the defendant was acquitted in respect of all 8 counts that he faced in relation to the ‘contact’ offences at his re-trial.

The Prosecution relied heavily upon the defendants’ convictions from the original trial for making Indecent images, in an effort to show that the defendant had a sexual interest in children. The jury at the original trial had rejected the defendants defence that he had not knowingly made the images and that they had been created as a result of ‘pop ups, which he had attempted to shut down.

Andy Rootsey instructed a fresh defence expert witness to re-examine the evidence in respect of the indecent image material.  Although the jury were not of course required to return verdicts in relation to the indecent images at his re-trial, the defence required the Prosecution expert witness to again give evidence, cross examine him, and were able to obtain major concessions from the Prosecution expert witness, that supported the defendants original defence, including that the images were system-created, that the images were inaccessible/unviewable to the user and also that the images were created by websites rather than the user, and therefore, could well have been originally created as a result of “pop-up” activity. The effectiveness of the Prosecution “bad character” evidence was therefore greatly diminished as a result.

Andy Rootsey also obtained evidence from a number defence witnesses, including evidence that directly contradicted the complainants account in relation to ‘early complaint’ and as a result the reliability and the credibility of the complainant’s evidence was greatly undermined the defendant was acquitted.

Gudrun Young KC of 2 Hare Court Chambers was instructed counsel.

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