Tuesday 23 October 2018

'I thought I was going to die' - woman now suing man cleared of raping her

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Hilary Duncanson

A woman who has raised a civil legal action against a man cleared of raping her has told a court she thought she was going to die during the alleged attack.

"I was just so afraid," the witness told a sheriff.

She also described how she has suffered panics, flashbacks and night terrors, for which she has been prescribed a range of medication, in the wake of the alleged assault after a night out in 2013.

The 23-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she went on to became more reclusive and that her drinking in an attempt to block out thoughts "spiralled out of control".

Stephen Coxen, 23, from Bury in Lancashire, is being sued by the woman who accuses him of raping her in St Andrews, Fife, that year.

Coxen denied the charges and in November 2015 a jury found the case against him not proven, a verdict of acquittal.

His alleged victim has launched a civil action, with her beginning her evidence at the Personal Injury Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Representing the woman, Simon Di Rollo QC asked her on Wednesday about an earlier statement she had made in which she said she "thought that was it" during the alleged attack.

She said: "I think it was a reference to the next day as well. I thought that was it ... I was so afraid, I suppose.

"I didn't know how it was going to end, I suppose. I was just so afraid, I didn't know what was going to happen next."

Pressed to explain what she had meant by the phrase, she replied: "I thought I was going to die."

She listed a variety of drugs she said she has been prescribed, including those to help with anxiety and depression.

"(One), like a beta-blocker, stops when I panic. I can feel the heart rate in my neck. It stops me panicking too much if I'm having flashbacks or triggers," she told the court.

She also described taking another tablet "because the night terrors have been getting quite bad now".

"I'd wake up in the night and feel I couldn't breathe," she said.

She also said she has been known to sleepwalk and said: "I don't sleep very well, I often wake up. Maybe once a week I wake up in a panic."

The woman told how her memories of the alleged events return to her and she said she finds it quite difficult to talk about them.

The witness said her friends would describe her as "reclusive" and that they became concerned about her drinking in the past.

"It got quite bad. My friends were quite worried about my level of drinking. It sort of spiralled out of control," she told Sheriff Robert Weir QC.

On Tuesday, the woman described waking up to find a stranger having sex with her after a night out.

The court heard that she had been drinking alcohol earlier in the night, but her memory was blank for parts of the evening.

Questioned on Wednesday by Stephen O'Rourke QC - representing Coxen, who contests the action - she agreed that she had consumed significantly more alcohol that night than she would have been used to.

Asked whether she might have "overstated" the amount she had consumed, she replied: "I disagree with that."

The witness told how people in St Andrews think it is a safe town in which someone can go home from a night out on their own - until "some monster takes advantage of that."

Mr O'Rourke put it to her that she and the defender had consensual intercourse after meeting.

The woman said she would not have been upset or alarmed if that were the case.

"Clearly, from my evidence, I was very distressed," she said.

She added: "I wouldn't have feared for my life, I wouldn't have had to have surgery on my tongue.

"All these things wouldn't have happened if that was the case, what you just said."

The action, understood to be the first of its kind in Scotland, continues on Thursday.

Press Association

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