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repeal the laws which make it too easy to convict the innocent

Comment 26th August 2010

Imagine this: You are a law-abiding citizen, an upright man with no previous convictions. One day the police break into your house with no search warrant and confiscate all your computer equipment.

They haul you off to the cells for several hours and interrogate you, allowing you nothing to eat or drink. You are totally confused. Since you are innocent, you obviously have no idea what you have been accused of.

 A few days later you find someone has made an allegation of sexual abuse against you, The Police raid your house again, carting off anything they think can be used in evidence and you are taken back to the cells for further questioning. If you say "No comment" to every question fired at you, you will stand a far better chance of staying out of jail but being innocent and eager for the truth to be known, you give them too much information about yourself, thus allowing them to twist your words to ensure a conviction.

Your friends are interrogated too. If any of them say anything good about you when they provide a statement, it is disregarded or conveniently placed at the bottom of the pile – The Police are only looking for the bad. For months nothing happens and you get very little legal advice as the duty solicitor you have been allocated is always "Very busy," only allowing you five minutes of his valuable time. But meanwhile The Police and the Crown Prosecution Service are gathering together as many lies as they can and they are extremely proficient at it with unlimited resources at their disposal. They are slowly but surely making you fit the profile.

A few months later the police again take you in for further questioning. Suddenly, out of the blue, further allegations are brought – "Crimes" allegedly committed by you way back in the past.

Now any logical-thinking human being would see a connection between the recent accusations and the ones from the past. But no, the police say the allegations are entirely separate and they will swear your accusers do not know each other although you know full well that they do… after all it was you who introduced them in the first place! You were all good friends at one point. But with the lure of compensation packages, unscrupulous people have no qualms about dragging an innocent man's name through the mud and sending him to jail for things that never happened.

At present in the UK it is quite possible to be branded a sex offender and be imprisoned indefinitely purely on the basis of hearsay, collusion, and bare-faced lies. If several people conspire against you they can get compensation… you get incarceration.

You will soon find that nearly everyone will desert you. Most people will not want to be associated with you anymore. They will not take the risk. The amount of lies spread about you will result in a "No smoke without fire" attitude, instigated by The Police.

Even at this point you still place enormous trust in the Justice System to clear your good name and wholeheartedly believe that your innocence will be your best defence – the fact that you did nothing wrong will surely win the day. But you will soon find no one has any faith in you. Even your defence barrister will tell you it would be better to plead guilty to get a lighter sentence.

You have no way of proving your innocence and then you find to your horror that the people who know the real truth are not allowed to appear in your defence as apparently, you are told, there is not enough legal funding.

You will not be given a fair trial; you will be processed and perhaps be imprisoned indefinitely for crimes that never happened. Then you will find there are more horrors to come. Once wrongly convicted you now discover you are the lowest of the low in the hierarchy of convicted men. Now deemed worse than murderers and multiple rapists, you are a "Vulnerable" prisoner who has to be segregated for his own protection.

Nobody loves a convicted paedophile which is what you are now even though you have never been sexually attracted to children. Robbers of banks and launderers of money can achieve hero status within prison walls but not you. If you still choose to maintain your innocence you are now viewed as "In denial" and not addressing your offending behaviour. In prison, cries of: "I'm innocent!" carry no weight. The answer you will get is: "We all are!" The prison system in the UK has virtually no strategy for dealing with the wrongly convicted. Together with the Probation office and Parole Board, the prison system is obliged to uphold the decision of the courts. Any loyal friends and family members who have not yet abandoned you will now also be viewed as being "In denial."

You are still alive, and at least there is not a death sentence hanging over your head, but your life has been cruelly snatched away nonetheless and now you will have another nightmare scenario on your hands. You will constantly be asked to admit guilt and accept responsibility for your "Crimes." You will be told to feel remorse for those crimes that never happened, and show empathy towards your "Victims" who by now are probably living the high life, enjoying their compensation money. They have no conscience and have no trouble in sleeping soundly at night without a thought for you.

If at this point you still choose to maintain your innocence you soon discover you may never be released! Uncompromising officers will continually try to get you to sign your innocence away. Coercive and brutal tactics are not unheard of. And on the outside the few remaining people who have stood by you no matter what, are powerless to do anything which will make any real difference. You are now in the unenviable position of having to choose between maintaining your integrity at the expense of your freedom or pretending to be a criminal in order to regain it. Most people would say they would never admit to doing anything they hadn't done but when forced with such a "Catch 22" situation it is understandable that some break under the strain and consider it fair trade for the hope of parole.

As you have had the misfortune of being falsely accused of something as damming as sex offences there is yet another sentence to serve if you ever regain your freedom. The day you walk through those prison gates is the day society will get its opportunity to pass judgment.

Your life will never be as it was before your conviction. By now institutionalised, you will be cast out into a vigilante world where every mother in the neighbourhood will be eager to avoid you and one where ordinary people would be quite happy to see you hung, drawn and quartered for fear of what you might do to their precious offspring. If a child goes missing, yours will be the first door the police will knock upon and then you will find you are right back to square one.

Why does this matter?

 

This idea is important in order to prevent the high incidence of miscarriages of justice.

The hearsay law, joint enterprise law and the law of similar fact, to name but a few, plus the laws which make it possible for an invented past to be conjured up for a defendant in cases of so called historical abuse, have all succeeded in making a mockery of justice by allowing a defendant to be convicted on word of mouth alone. This is particularly the case is cases of alleged sex offences.

Since it is impossible to prove a negative, the fact that you know you have not committed any crimes will not protect you against the corroboration of liars who have the weight of The Police and the Crown Prosecution Service on their side. The real truth will thus be omitted from your trial and you soon will likely find yourself serving an indefinite term of imprisonment as one of the wrongfully convicted.

 

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