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27 Jul 2015
Convictions in Old Bailey Sex Ring TrialTweet
After over 40 hours’ deliberation the jury returned verdicts late on Friday in the major child sexual abuse trial being prosecuted by Oliver Saxby QC, leading Alan Blake from Thames Valley CPS and Patrick Duffy from 23 Essex Street.
The trial had taken some 8 weeks or so and had been notable for the way on which the evidence of the two complainants was placed before the jury. Each had declined to have their face shown during their numerous and lengthy ABE interviews with the police – meaning that the DVDs could not be played as evidence-in-chief in the ordinary way. As a result, each had to be called ‘live’ – with the assistance of intermediaries – to facilitate which the Crown prepared very detailed ‘examination-in-chief plans’ which were served in advance of the case.
The case was a factually complex one, involving allegations against a large number of persons spanning a 5-year period. Oliver Saxby QC subsequently wrote a short case study on this case which is below:-
Case Study: R v Singh and Others, Central Criminal Court, 14th May-24th July 2015: Singh presented very different pressures, of course; but it was of great assistance in this case, too, to gain an overview of the sequence of events and how everything fitted together from the very outset.
Whilst in Bodnar the alleged offences had been fairly recent, in Singh they were historical – dating back some eight or nine years – and the body of material to look through was more substantial. Sifting through it was a mammoth task but from the composite document my junior Alan Blake and I prepared, we realised that there was a serious issue with the year the main complainant said the sexual abuse had started. Indeed one of the defendants could not have been in the UK at the time – an echo of the situation in Bodnar. We asked the police to make some further enquiries – in particular about a film the complainant said she had been taken to. It transpired that the film had been released the following year – in other words she had got her age, and therefore the year, wrong; and the defendant in question had indeed been in the UK at the time. Unnoticed, this discrepancy could have had disastrous consequences. But we saw it and were able to rescue the situation in advance, presenting our case accordingly.
When it came to the trial itself, our main task was to call the two vulnerable complainants and elicit their evidence as against all eleven defendants in a way the jury could follow and assimilate. As in Bodnar, intermediaries were used; and as in Bodnar, it was very helpful to discuss the form of questioning with them in advance.
In Singh, the principal complainant had been interviewed by the police in two sets of interviews lasting in total over 20 hours. From these interviews, two statements had been produced – running to about 150 pages in total. If we were to have any chance of placing her evidence before the jury, defendant by defendant in a comprehensible way, we needed to refine down the information she had to give as against each defendant into some kind of referenced order. This we did in what we called Examination in Chief Plans. These ran to 36 pages and contained all relevant information the complainant had given the police over the course of her 20 hours of interviews. They were served in the defence and the Court in advance of the trial.
With eleven defendants on trial and over forty counts on the indictment, there was a risk of ‘information overload’. In fact having been in retirement for around two weeks, the jury entered guilty verdicts on the majority of the defendants on the principal counts”.
Follow the links below for media coverage of the case:-