More information on the Isaac Itiary trial, from today’s Times:
Britain’s biggest police force launched a review of evidence in all current rape and sex abuse cases last night as a second case within a week collapsed.
The Metropolitan Police said it would assess whether it was obeying laws on disclosure in hundreds of potential prosecutions after officers failed to divulge evidence proving that a girl making rape allegations was a liar. [J4MB: This begs the question of disclosure in previous prosecutions, and they, too, should of course be investigated. Given the politicisation of the CPS and the police over a number of years, we would expect a considerable number of miscarriages of justice in London and elsewhere.]
Isaac Itiary, 25, spent four months in jail awaiting trial [J4MB emphasis] until all charges were dropped yesterday when it was revealed that police had text messages from the girl’s mobile that fundamentally undermined the prosecution case.
On Friday The Times revealed the collapse of the trial of Liam Allan, 22, a criminology student accused of rape, after a two-year ordeal. Police had failed to disclose texts from a woman that showed she had lied and proved Mr Allan’s innocence.
Detective Constable Mark Azariah, 37, the investigating officer in both rape cases, remains on full duty in the sexual offences investigation unit. [J4MB emphasis] He has been a police officer since at least 2009. The cases are an embarrassment for Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner, and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). They will increase pressure for a full inquiry into claims that police are “unconsciously biased” against men accused of rape and that there is a lack of funding for defence lawyers, risking miscarriages of justice. [J4MB emphasis]
Mr Itiary, from Walworth, southeast London, was charged in July with six counts of sexual activity with a child between November 2016 and May this year, two counts of rape and one count of making indecent photographs. The girl was aged 14 and 15 at the time of the alleged offences and the prosecution applied for Mr Itiary to be remanded in custody while police prepared evidence because he was considered to be a risk to the public. Mr Itiary, who was due to stand trial next month, said that he believed the girl was 19.
The defence asked for details of the girl’s text messages in September but they were provided only this week. They showed that she routinely posed as a 19-year-old. [J4MB emphasis] All charges were dropped at an emergency hearing at Inner London crown court after Mr Itiary’s barrister, Mary Aspinall-Miles, discovered the text messages. Mr Itiary, a father of two who lives with his fiancée, was released last night and went to his parents’ home to celebrate.
The CPS said Mr Itiary had been charged in accordance with the “threshold test” used in serious cases while prosecutors awaited further evidence. “On December 17, 2017, the police provided new material to the CPS, which had previously been requested, and this was reviewed,” a spokeswoman said. “Prosecutors decided that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.”
Some text messages from the girl’s mobile phone, which helped the prosecution, had been provided by police in September. It was unclear why those undermining the case were not disclosed sooner. [J4MB: It’s perfectly clear to us.]
Scotland Yard said evidence in the case was reviewed on Friday last week after the police received a “defence case statement”. “This resulted in the identification of relevant material which was passed to the CPS to disclose,” a spokesman said. The force will review its investigation “to ensure that all reasonable lines of inquiry were pursued at the earliest practical opportunity”.
“As a precaution, every live case being investigated by the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences command, where the Metropolitan Police Service is in discussion with the CPS, is being reviewed to ensure that all digital evidence has been properly examined, documented and shared with the CPS to meet obligations under disclosure,” the spokesman added.
Commander Richard Smith, who oversees rape investigations in the Met, said: “I understand that this case may raise concerns about our compliance with disclosure legislation given the backdrop of the [Liam Allan] case. The Met is completely committed to understanding what went wrong in the case of Mr Allan and is carrying out a joint review with the CPS, the findings of which will be published. Rape investigations are by their nature very complex, and often hinge on the contradictory accounts of the alleged suspect and the complainant about what has taken place.” [J4MB: This is made to sound like an excuse, but it’s precisely why the police’s failure to disclose evidence to the defence team is a travesty.]
A neighbour of Mr Itiary described him as “kind and gentle” and said the front door of his home had remained boarded up since it was raided by police in the summer.
Jerry Hayes, the prosecution barrister who helped expose failures in Mr Allan’s case, said: “The police have to be independent and they cannot cherry pick evidence. They are not there to build the case for the prosecution.” [J4MB: On the contrary, the police are clearly there to do exactly that, in cahoots with the CPS, to drive up the number of convictions. Alison Saunders has always been very clear about the ‘need’ to increase convictions.]
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