Man is cleared of rape after judge rules interview cannot be used as evidence

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court - Credit: Archant

A man has been cleared of rape after a judge ruled the alleged victim’s recorded police interview could not be used as evidence.

Dominic Mitchell, 22, of no fixed abode, and formerly of Ottery St Mary, was found not guilty by Recorder Mr Martin Meeke, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.

Mitchell has spent four months in custody after being arrested in January when a woman made a complaint of being raped at a house in Sidmouth.

The judge ruled that the complainant’s ‘achieving best evidence’ (ABE) interview could not be used as evidence because there were discrepancies between the account the woman gave to police and what she told a medical examiner.

He said there were also anomalies between what she told the police and forensic evidence which emerged later.

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The judge said the ABE interview could not be used as hearsay evidence and Mitchell could not have a fair trial unless his barrister had a chance to cross-examine the complainant.

The court heard police lost contact with her after she gave her ABE interview and all attempts to trace her have failed.

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The judge ruled there was no reasonable prospect of her making contact with the authorities again and being able to give evidence.

Miss Anna Midgley, prosecuting, offered no evidence after the judge made the ruling and Mitchell was discharged.

Mitchell denied rape. He said the woman had consented to sex with him.

Miss Emily Cook, defending, said the woman’s ABE interview should not be allowed as evidence because of the discrepancies showed the woman was not a reliable witness.

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