The news seems to be full of reports of Met police officers being charged with rape and other serious offences lately, and while the media coverage often reports this as being a reflection of a police force rife with ‘bad cops’, we see it a different way.
We were among the people stunned and saddened by the rape and murder of Sarah Everard, who was killed following a false arrest by serving Met officer Wayne Couzens. We shared the horror and outrage of the general public as we forced ourselves to imagine the fear of Ms Everard’s final hours, and the grief and outrage her loved ones will no doubt feel for the rest of their lives.
We certainly agree that the Met – and all police forces – should undertake a rigorous review of their systems and policies to ensure that all personnel are deserving of the authorities and powers that their roles allow them to benefit from.
However, as criminal defence solicitors with a specialism in rape and serious sexual offences, we believe that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty and have a right to a fair trial. We have sadly seen that the individual officers being prosecuted post-Couzens are, in some cases, being judged by a system that failed to catch his warning signs, and are being treated as pawns in a bigger plan to attempt to repair the force’s damaged reputation.
We were recently instructed by a former met officer charged with rape. It was apparent from the outset of the case that our client was innocently caught up in organisation-wide issues and not just the allegations he faced, from the moment he was remanded following his police interview, to the hearings in his case which were attended not just by a prosecuting barrister and the officer in the case, but whole swaths of police officers and departmental prosecution heads.
Our client was initially represented by a Legal Aid firm who failed to return his calls or provide the service that he expected and deserved. Being a man of good character, from a family who had devoted their lives to public service, he was terrified of the situation he found himself in, and found that his legal team were unable to reassure him or answer his questions. They actively refused to speak to his family, who were keen to assist.
Fortunately, our client found Forrest Williams and we took over the case. We were able to pro-actively pursue new lines of investigation, obtaining and interrogating 200,000+ pages of digital evidence and actively involving the client and his family, who all had vital points to contribute to case preparation.
With this specialist case preparation and representation by a leading Kings Counsel barrister, our client was acquitted of all counts.
While this is great news, and a victory indeed, it is not a celebration. Our client has lost several months of his life, imprisoned for alleged crimes he did not commit. During that time, his own morals meant that he refused visits from his mother or his children. A long-awaited family holiday of a lifetime was cancelled. His name was smeared in the press, who will be less keen to prominently report on his acquittal compared to him being charged. Some people will forever say there is ‘no smoke without fire’.
Our client is fortunate to return to a community who love and will support him, not to mention a former employer who holds him in such high standing he will return to an old job. Not everyone is so lucky.
If you or a loved one are a police officer being investigated for, or charged with, rape of a serious sexual offence, you may feel that your case is being prosecuted because of bigger issues than the allegations made against you.
You may feel that the organisation you have devoted your time and skills to have quickly abandoned you, or even turned against you.
It is vital that you seek specialist legal representation at the earliest stage possible.
Call us now for an initial free consultation on 01623 397200.