Monday 23 July 2018

Complainant 'understandably upset and disappointed' at outcome

PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman. Photo: Arthur Allison
PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman. Photo: Arthur Allison

Nicola Anderson and Laura Lynott

The complainant at the centre of allegations in the Ulster rugby case is "understandably upset and disappointed with the outcome".

The 21-year-old spent eight days in the witness box during the trial in Belfast.

In Northern Ireland, rape trials are not held 'in camera' with the public excluded.

The 20 months, up to and including the trial, were difficult for the young woman. And yet she told the court pursuing the case was the "best decision" she had made.

Following the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Zoe McKee, the senior investigating officer on the case, was asked if that was still the complainant's view.

"Yes, I can confirm that's still the case," said DCI McKee.

During the trial, the complainant also told the jury she had no regrets about coming forward to make a statement.

PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman referenced the young woman had been named on social media and said police would investigate the breaches of her right to anonymity.

DCS Hilman said the woman "had the resolve and confidence to come forward and put her faith in police and the criminal justice process".

DCI McKee said the complainant was "upset and disappointed".

She added: "We do not want the decision in today's verdict to deter victims from coming forward. And I think it's very, very important. There are no winners here.

Complexity

"This case was unprecedented. It was a case that has never been heard before - the complexity, the volume, the scale - and I think we cannot compare like for like in terms of cases, so I would encourage everybody who wants to make a report to police to come forward in the knowledge that you will be treated sensitively and with respect and your allegation in the court will be taken very seriously."

However, frontline service workers say they are concerned rape complainants are less likely to come forward now.

Waterford Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre director Anne Scully said "words used" during the trial had been "very damaging" to rape complainants.

"For people who wanted to report rape, this trial has put them off," she said.

If you have been affected by any aspect of this case, contact www.rapecrisishelp.ie

Irish Independent

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