24/11/2005

Consent 'doubt' sees rape case collapse

A rape case collapsed when a 21-year-old student told how she had been too drunk to remember whether on not she had consented to sex with a fellow student.

The female student had alleged that she had been raped in the hall of a residence in Aberystwyth University.

However, at Swansea Crown Court, High Court Judge Mr Justice Roderick Evans directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty, as "drunken consent is still consent".

The defendant, a part-time university security guard, Ruairi Dougal, 20, from County Donegal claimed that the sex was consensual. His defence counsel argued that it was impossible for her to be sure whether or not she had given consent as she could not remember.

The prosecution, however, abandoned the case when the plaintiff gave evidence, saying that she could remember "something happening" in the corridor. She said that she would have brought the man into her room if she had wanted to have consensual sex, and was sure that she would not have consented.

The court heard during cross-examination that she had been unconscious and could not remember giving consent.

She complained to police two days after the incident. After interviewing Mr Dougal, police informed her that she had had full sexual intercourse.

The trial collapsed on the second day, when the prosecution abandoned the case on the evidence given to the court.

The case has provoked outrage among victim support and student groups who claimed that the law was not working to protect victims and have asked for a review of the case.

(SP)

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