Blunders Land Police with £20,000 Compensation Payout

20,000 seems to be something of a magic number for that section of the police force which couldn’t quite be described as its “best and brightest.” A few months ago, 20,000 crime records were lost to a blunder in the IT department. Now, £20,000 have been lost in a compensation payout to a rape victim after their handling of her case was filled with blunders.

The victim in question suffered a great deal as a result of the police’s mishandling of her report. She was reportedly driven to self-harm and even attempted suicide as a result of this mistreatment by police on top of the trauma of the attack itself.

The police force in question was Hampshire Constabulary, and the victim has exercised her right to remain anonymous. She had been on a night out with a group of friends when the attack occurred, and a portion of the party had headed back to one of their homes. The victim was part of this group, and so was the attacker.

It was at this house that the attack took place, and the woman later appeared at the police station to report that she had been raped. If there was one bright side, it was that she was pretty sure the attacker had left forensic evidence on her T-shirt which should make it much easier to link him to the assault and bring him to justice. She promptly told this to police.

This was when the blunders began. The police didn’t bother to test for the forensic evidence on her T-shirt, despite the fact she had specifically told them about it. Neither did they rush to try and apprehend the culprit. Instead, they at first ignored the report and then later decided to arrest the victim. They told her she was lying, and threatened to charge her.

According to the mother of the victim, she “couldn’t cope.” Over the course of this ordeal, she twice attempted to end her own life. It was only months after the original report that the police finally tested her T-shirt thoroughly for the evidence that she had told them about, after the Crown Prosecution Service asked them to do so. The evidence was indeed present and the attacker was finally arrested and last year was jailed for five years.

Now, the police have issued an apologetic statement and agreed to pay the victim compensation of £20,000 for the ordeal they put her through in an out-of-court settlement. Hampshire Constabulary also investigated officers who were involved in the blunder-filled handling of her case. Three such officers have been allowed to resign or retire while the investigation was still ongoing – a move the victim’s mother harshly criticised.

While she said she was glad the officers in question had admitted their wrongdoing, she felt that “if you’re in the middle of an investigation and you’ve been named, they shouldn’t let you resign or retire, because you are answerable to that.”

Wrongly-Accused Man Finally Released After 17 Years

A man who was wrongly convicted on a charge of sexual assault has finally been able to walk free. However, this comes only after losing 17 years of his life to prison. DNA evidence has pointed the law towards the fact he was not the real culprit, leading the court of appeal to finally set the man free.

Former postman Victor Nealon never stopped insisting he was innocent after being convicted of rape in 1997. He has now been proved right after the best part of two decades, and his conviction has been quashed. The Court of Appeal is yet to reveal the full details of the judgement, but they will do so at a later date according to Lord Justice Fulford.

The DNA evidence that has now overturned his conviction would have been “explosive” if it had been put before the original trial, according to Peter Willcock QC who was representing Nealon.

Nealon, who is now 53, had been jailed for life. This sentence was a discretionary one, but he was refused consideration for parole due to the fact he continually maintained his innocence. As it has turned out, he was telling the truth and denying him parole on these grounds merely lengthened a mistaken imprisonment.

Nealon appeared through a video link at the appeal. He did not speak, except to give enthusiastic thanks when it was said that his conviction would be overturned.

There were two previous attempts by Nealon to appeal against his sentence. However, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) refused to conduct DNA tests on the evidence from the trial. Ultimately, independent experts were commissioned to carry out the tests by solicitor Mark Newby, who works for Jordan’s Solicitors in Doncaster. When they were finally performed in 2010 the tests found that the DNA could not have come from Nealon. Instead, it belongs to another man whose identity currently remains unknown.

At first the Crown still resisted the validity of the DNA evidence. They claimed it could have been contaminated and the DNA could have come from other sources, for example the shops from which the clothes were purchased. However, the defence pointed out that the DNA was on multiple, separate items of clothing and in locations that were consistent with the way the attack had been described as taking place.

According to Leo O’Toole, Nealon’s friend and an avid campaigner for his release, welcomed the decision but said that “the damage to Victor – and to the victim – is irreversible. She will also now know that the real perpetrator got away free.” Ultimately, it took too long for the blunder to be corrected.