Friday, 18 May 2007

"Fat chicks are more grateful"

I hope that this report of a defence barrister's conduct in a rape trial contained a lot of inaccuracies. It's often unattractive to run consent when the circumstances of an alleged rape are horrible (in this case, the two 16-year-old victims are said to have had their phones taken then been repeatedly raped by three younger teenagers in a park), but if you're defending you have to follow your client's instructions. There is, however, a way of doing these things in a sensitive and professional way, and suggesting that the complainant was so fat at the time that she was grateful for the defendant's attention seems unlikely to win many jurors over!

Of course, the press frequently get things wrong or out of context - why, a few years ago the beagle herself was described as "daft" by one local rag! However, at face value this seems to be a glowing example of a barrister going far too far and giving the rest of us a bad name.


Anonymous said...

Yet more evidence of the disgraceful tactics to which some will sink in order to secure an aqcuittal... how very, very sad.

Belle de Jure said...

Indeed! I also hope it is full of inaccuracies. If a defence lawyer can't run a defence without stooping to such lows, then they simply are not a good lawyer, in my humble opinion.

Mr Beagle said...

I don't think you're daft x

Smartie said...

I read this on the front sheet of the London paper. I believe that those words were most probably said by the Defence Barrister.

Simon Myerson said...

The usual mixture of a mistake in judgement and over-enthusiastic reporting.

The general point - that the Complainant should not be automatically believed when she denies consenting - is fair enough. THe reason why - that she was just discovering her sexual identity and that goes with leaping hormones and a lack of imagination as to consequences - is also fair enough.

The choice of illustration - that she is now more 'attractive' than at the time - was not briliantly chosen, but the report itself, rather than the headline, makes it clear that it was not meant as insult.

We also don't know what the victim said when the suggestion was put to her. It is clear that she was not abused in the witness box or that would have been all over the papers too. So it's likely that, at the time, the point passed unremarked - a tribute to counsel's gentle touch. I'd be a bot cautious about leaping in with comments like 'disgraceful' in those circumstances.

cramerj said...

It is interesting in rape cases how the 'no smoke without fire '-thing goes.
Maybe , just maybe, the defendents were telling the truth. Dont forget that they are being threatened with dire punishment. Why should not they defend themselves.

Troubled barrister said...


I would be really interested into how you are finding doing civil work. I jumped ship myself was doing about 25% crime and gave it up altogether for a life at the Civil Bar.

Anonymous said...

One can appreciate that the lot of a defence lawyer is not always a happy one, but I believe that the presumption of innocence takes care of the idea that the complainant's word should automatically be believed. If that were anywhere near the truth of the situation regarding trials of this nature, there would not be such an appallingly low conviction rate which actually is 'disgraceful'. The tactics that some defence counsel use to play to the (unflattering) preconceptions of many jurors about rape victims is also 'disgraceful'.

The reason that rape is a crime that carries with it a stiff jail sentence is because it is an extremely serious act with life-long scars for the individuals concerned. Defending yourself is one thing. Throwing around falsehoods and stereotypes in the process is altogether another matter. But (to the supporters of the barrister concerned) I wouldn't be too worried. Statistically, these young men are very likely to be acquitted in any event.

future_barrister said...

Hmmmmm doesn't Counsel come across some freaks at the Criminal Bar? Guys who actually have a thing for the....errrr......big boned women.

On that note, fat chicks need love too!

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