Rape case closed?

We are on the eve of a general election and the focus of the entire country has been on that five-year exercise ever since Prime Minister Freundel Stuart decreed February 21 as our E-Day.

But a most significant aspect of the recent controversy involving the case of the Commissioner of Police versus Derick Crawford has basically gone unnoticed and merits exploration. Has the Royal Barbados Police Force closed the case files and ended the investigations into the rape of Britons Dr. Rachel Turner and Diane Davies?

Under circumstances where the victims have maintained that they were not raped by Crawford; his insistence that he was not the rapist; and public statements by Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin suggesting his investigators were adamant that Crawford was the culprit, what gives with this criminal investigation?

What is the precedent being set here not only for this case, but for matters where accused persons are freed by a jury of their peers after maintaining their innocence in situations where the only evidence against them are confessionary statements?

We are aware that accused persons are sometimes found “not guilty” in situations where there are not necessarily “innocent”. These cases involve circumstances where the virtual complainant withdraws the allegation before a magistrate or some horrendous foul-up by the police or prosecutors leads to the case being withdrawn or dismissed.

But in cases such as the Commissioner of Police versus Derick Crawford where a victim is clear on the identity of his or her attacker and does not identify a suspect in police custody, what does the law enforcement agency do? The correct procedure, in virtually most jurisdictions, would be to continue the investigation with a view to finding a suspect.

However, taking the public utterances of the hierarchy of the Royal Barbados Police Force, we ask the question: Is anyone, police or private investigator, looking for the person who raped Turner and Davies?

If the answer is yes, taking into consideration the high profile nature of the case, both here and in Britain, some public indication that the matter is still being pursued is merited at some future juncture.

If the answer is no, taking into consideration what Turner and Davies had to say, then someone needs to state on what basis have the cases been closed.

Do the police force and/or the state have any liability if further investigations are not pursued and rape offences recur in the area of the attacks on Davies and Turner? What if another suspect is held who admits his guilt in the Britons’ case?

This is not an isolated set of circumstances.

One merely has to follow court proceedings in Barbados, and perhaps other jurisdictions, and there are several examples of acquittals of accused where the case hinged on identification and nothing has ever been heard of any post-adjudication enquiries.

What does a “not guilty” verdict mean for victims of crime when the nexus between the crime and alleged perpetrator is provided by the police, and not the victims?

Another question in the administration of our justice system that has thus far gone unanswered is the liability of the state to accuse who have been exonerated of criminal acts.

We have had situations where persons have spent sometimes two, three or four years behind bars awaiting trial and having been found guilty, have had time spent on remand subtracted from their sentences. This is all well and good.

What is of greater concern to us are situations where accused are freed after lengthy remand because the basis of the cases brought against them was so poor that the matters were discontinued, or were dismissed for lack of prosecution or the accused persons were found to be innocent. How are they compensated?

After all, time spent is already time spent.

Just some food for thought.

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