Disclosure – why let a few text messages get in the way of a prosecution?

It took two years for “Tom” to be discharged having been accused, our of the blue, of sexually assaulting his ex girlfriend

When Natalie found that Tom had been messaging his ex (and mother of his child ) , she was staying with him at his mothers’ small house . An argument ensued until until the next morning,  and in order to placate Natalie,  Tom agreed to join her at her parents home to apologise . They are both students in their early to mid 20s having enjoyed on the face of it an extremely intense and sexually charged relationship.  The relationship didn’t stay the course after that night .

Seven months later there was an encounter at a public event where both Tom and Natalie’s families were present. A fracas ensued whereby her brothers attempted to attack Tom. Natalie was accused of assaulting Tom’s grandmother. As police were called a detailed and graphic allegation was made by Natalie that Tom had raped and sexually assaulted her that fateful night when she found his messages .


He was interviewed by police and subjected to almost two years of hellish uncertainty, his fate in the hands of the CPS decision makers and ultimately a jury once he was charged with several counts of rape and sexual assault . Tom was bewildered because the events described were impossible.


The prosecution did not seize any phones, did not seek to view any other evidence except for the screen shots of a few messages between the complainant , her  friends and the defendant’s ex partner supposedly to support the fact that these allegations were  not  recently fabricated .


Tom lived in a small house , his younger brother and mother were in  adjacent bedrooms  when he was alledged to have raped Natalie, her car was parked outside and at the time, she was  sober. He had accompanied Natalie the next day as she  insisted  to her parent’s home to discuss their relationship. But the Crown who could not determine the date of the offence  decided to proceed with the charges  . The Crown would not even seek to examine his or Natalies’s  telephone .


Tom was fortunate to have a supportive new partner who chose not to accept the allegations. Tom’s mother produced a message from Natalie to her which we were able to date the night she stayed at their home and argued about him messaging the ex partner. Whilst waiting for trial, Tom allowed his current partner to examine his own telephone from which she extrapolated thousands of messages between the two;  it could be seen that there was no mention of any violence or sexual assault complained of during the relevant  period, indeed in the days after that meeting at Natlaie’s parents the discussions continued via text as to whether they can have a future, and whether they can realise some of their sexual fantasies.


The prosecution were notified of these texts within a lengthy letter of representations, some four months before the listed trial date  two months after receiving the written  representations from the defence, The Crown Prosecution Service declined to examine the material without it being formally downloaded. We instructed, at public expense an expert to carry out this task. Having completed this aspect of the CPS role, we handed  the report to the CPS  and served a copy on the court. It took a further 6 weeks  and a need to list the case at court before it was finally reviewed . After  two years under investigation, with days to go to trial The CPS finally relented  agreed to offer no evidence.


Tom is relieved , but upset that he was forced to wait to clear this name and angry that the prosecution was bought in the first place . He is astonished that the CPS/police failed to carry out their duties in terms of conducting an investigation . The CPS were never interested in material that might exonerate the defendant, but that might have been influenced by the complaint against police  made by  Natalie at the early stage of this investigation as a result of her overhearing  officers joking about her case when they accidently pocket called her.  A complainant felt let down by the attitude of the police towards her, therefore the matter was pursued despite other evidence that may be available.


Ultimately whether it was due to lack of resources or an aggrieved complainants, The CPS were reluctant to make a call on this, preferring for the defendant to lose the best part of two years awaiting an outcome that could have been met much earlier with the allocation of proper resources into case reviews .

Whether you are accused of a serious sexual or violent case, or a simple public order matter, we are aware of the importance of the availaiblity and consideration of material hidden within telephones .  If you wish to discuss such a case , please contact Tom’s solcitor  Jonathan Black on 0207 837 3456.