In this issue
Welcome
The Rape Shield Clarified: Better Late Than Never
R v Ched Evans: A New Season for Interpreting s.41?
IPPs and Sex Offenders: What Now?
Youths and sex offences: An argument against offence-specific sentencing guidelines
The Crown Prosecution Service's Guidance on Sexting
Two new cases
In other news
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Feature Articles
The Rape Shield Clarified: Better Late Than Never

Notwithstanding that the rape shield provisions of s.41 YJCEA 1999 have been in existence for almost sixteen years, their complexity remains the subject of debate by the Court of Appeal.  Joel Bennathan QC outlines the Court's latest interpretation as set out in R v VA, in which he successfuly appeared for the appellant.  The case represents a helpful clarification of the law, without undermining the crucial protection afforded to complainants.

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R v Ched Evans: A New Season for Interpreting s.41?

Investigations and cases involving sexual offences are a daily feature of our newspapers, and nothing gets editors more excited than trials involving high-profile individuals.  The furore which surrounded the appeal and subsequent re-trial of footballer Ched Evans gave rise to suggestions that his significant resources allowed him to buy his way to an acquittal at the expense of the complainant's credibility.  Ben Newton argues the case does little more than confirm what s.41 has said for many years.

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IPPs and Sex Offenders: What Now?

The abolition of new IPP sentences four years ago (December 2012) was a welcome development. However, many who were sentenced under this regime remain in prison, despite their original tariff having expired some time ago.  Owing to recent legal aid restrictions, many are unable to bring a well-argued case to a Parole Board.  A challenge to those restrictions will be heard in January 2017 - if successful many IPP prisoners may have the means to seek their release.  Abigail Bright sets out more.

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Youths and sex offences: An argument against offence-specific sentencing guidelines

The sentencing of young offenders is notoriously complex and fast-changing.  A good reason, some argue, for having definitive sentencing guidelines for specific serious offences; in particular sexual offences, conviction for which can adversely impact a young offender for life.  But no such guidelines exist. Time for reform?  No, says Abigail Bright, arguing that the very absence of restrictive guidelines allows sentecing courts to consider young offenders and their particular circumstances individually.

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The Crown Prosecution Service's Guidance on Sexting

Father of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell could never have envisaged his invention would evolve to the extent that many people now use it as an important part of their love lives.  And as is often the case, the development of social trends far outpaces legal reform.  This can pose a problem for young people and their partners who use their smartphones to send each other explicit images, notwithstanding this can be illegal.  As Jake Taylor outlines, new guidance from the CPS may now mean they do not risk falling foul of the law.

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New Case Law
Two new cases
 
Sarah Elliott QC
Sarah Elliott QC

Senior member of the Doughty Street Crime team and sexual offences specialist Sarah Elliott QC highlights two important new cases practitioners should be aware of.  Links to the judgments are included; for further information on how these cases may impact your client please get in touch.

GUTHRIE [2016] EWCA Crim 1633

Court of Appeal uphold conviction where Judge refused to permit evidence of previous consensual sex between the parties at the complainant’s house after various social events to be admitted under s 43(1) (c) on an allegation of rape, where the defence was this was another consensual encounter arising in the same sort of circumstances.


CHAPMAN [2016] EWCA 1631

Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s decision not to admit evidence of consensual sexual intercourse between the parties which took place some seven months after the incident where the complainant alleged rape.

 

In Other News...
In other news
 
Sarah Elliott QC

Sarah Elliott QC also highlights other non-caselaw developments in the field of sexual offences law which may be of interest to practitioners:


Over the past year Sir Richard Henriques has written two very different reports on highly publicised areas of the current investigations into allegations of historic sexual abuse. Both are well worth reading but his recent report into Operation Midland will be of particular interest to defence practitioners.  The reports can be accessed using the two links below:

http://news.met.police.uk/documents/report-independent-review-of-metropolitan-police-services-handling-of-non-recent-sexual-offence-investigations-61510

https://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/reports/henriques_report_190116.pdf


Section 28 update

Crown Court Judges are currently undergoing training on the use of the section 28 pre-recorded cross-examination procedure on the basis that the MOJ may begin the national roll out in the New Year of s16 YJCEA criteria (witnesses eligible through age – under 18 at time of hearing or capacity) with the extension to include the s17 criteria, (fear or distress at prospect of testifying) in January 2018.  Judges may wish to try out the product of their new learning - practitioners should be prepared.  We will be happy to provide some training in this area for firms - get in touch if you would like to know more.




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