A piece by Neil Johnston in today’s Times, emphases ours:
A Durham University student and rugby international accused of sexually assaulting a woman has been cleared after making a “heartfelt apology”.
Christopher Twigg, 20, who has played for the Thai rugby team, was accused of three sexual assaults on the student during nights out shortly after starting a sport and exercise degree.
However, prosecutors offered no evidence, saying the apology was enough to “meet the public interest” over the alleged offences. Jurors found Mr Twigg not guilty of all charges after directions from the judge.
Mr Twigg, who was 19 at the time of the alleged incidents, met the complainant alongside barristers to make amends and she accepted his apology.
The judge was also told that prosecutors had failed to disclose statements from the complainant and witnesses as well as phone messages that may have helped the defence at a trial.
The incidents were alleged to have taken place in Durham during the autumn of 2017. The second and third, in which Mr Twigg was alleged to have touched the complainant sexually without her consent, were said to have happened after a university rugby social. Mr Twigg was charged eight months later, having been suspended from university. He denied all charges.
On the second day of the hearing at Durham crown court, he met the alleged victim in the building, where he made his apology. During the hearing Sarah Forshaw, QC, for the defence, told the judge that one incident related to a “drunken kiss” and a joke about grabbing her dressing gown while they were both laughing. She also raised concerns about disclosure of evidence.
Chris Baker, for the prosecution, told the court: “Upon deliberation and consultation with the complainant a view was taken that a heartfelt apology to her would meet the public interest in this case. This has now taken place and she was content with the apology.”
Judge Jonathan Carroll told Mr Twigg: “I understand that you have now apologised to the girl in this case and that both counsel have taken the view it was a genuine and heartfelt apology . . . that was the very least you could have done. [J4MB: By way of reparation for something he hadn’t done.] You were in drink and have allowed horseplay to elevate itself. At the very least it was downright rude [J4MB: OMG. Rudeness towards a woman. Off with his head!] and a quite intimidating behaviour which had a very significant impact on your victim. Go away and reflect how you behaved in drink so you never see yourself before the court again.”
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