'He apologised - so why did the CPS drop my rape case?'

Media caption,
Bonny Turner says the CPS dropped her case even though her alleged rapist apologised to her on Facebook Messenger

A woman who says she was raped by a former partner as she slept says she still does not understand why the case was never brought to trial.

Bonny Turner has messages on her phone from the man apologising for his actions.

But the case never made it to court after the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop the case.

The CPS said decisions to prosecute are based on legal tests being met.

But campaigners say they want to take the CPS to court as they believe sexual offence cases across the country are being dropped without good reason.

Women's groups have accused the CPS of secretly changing its policy and practice in relation to decision-making on rape cases in England and Wales.

They say this was responsible for a major drop in the number of cases resulting in a criminal charge, a coalition said.

Bonny, who has waived her right to anonymity to speak out about the decision, spoke to the Victoria Derbyshire show.

She said: "It happened when I was fast asleep. He raped me and he verbally acknowledged what he had done the next day."

Because she had been so deeply asleep it took her several days for what had happened to sink in.

"I was questioning whether it happened or not myself," she said. "It took several days for the shock to wear off.

"Then I started getting panic attacks a couple of nights after the rape happened."

She believes it is because of this time, where for a few days she remained in a sexual relationship with the man, that the CPS decided to drop her case - despite the fact she later received Facebook messages from him admitting to and apologising for his actions that night.

One Facebook message which he sent her said: "Bonny, I am so sorry, really, I made a huge mistake. I was very stupid. Is there is anything I could do to make you feel better."

She replied: "I was still fast asleep when you forced yourself inside me. I was frozen with fear and so deeply [sleeping] that I thought I was dreaming."

He said: "I know, I completely read wrong."

Despite this evidence the CPS decided to drop the case in January 2018.

Bonny said: "I don't really know why. The decision came one month after [a similar case] collapsed in court. It was possibly partly because of that."

Media caption,
Harriet Wistrich from the End Violence Against Women Coalition on BBC Breakfast

The UK-wide End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), represented by the Centre for Women's Justice, said it had a dossier of more than 20 recent cases that were dropped by prosecutors for reasons they felt were spurious or unjustified.

They include one victim who was raped at knifepoint and held prisoner for two days by her boyfriend - a man who was known by police to be violent, campaigners said.

The group said the prosecutor dropped the case, saying WhatsApp messages she had sent to placate her attacker could be misinterpreted by the jury.

Another woman, known as Beth, was sexually abused and raped as a child.

She alleges that despite a two-year investigation which saw police interview more than 50 witnesses and collate 44 charges against the man, the case was dropped.

Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire show this morning, she said: "I was absolutely devastated.

"This person has a gun, he moved at one point to follow where I was, he constantly hounds me with threats.

"To have built the courage to finally go forward after other sexual offences and a rape had happened, and then for the case to be dropped like that, it made me think well if you're a kid growing up with abuse then you really have nowhere to turn to."

Over the past four years the number of rapes reported to police in England and Wales has gone up by 173%, figures show.

But, at the same time, there has been a 44% fall in cases actually getting to court, with only 4% of rape complaints resulting in a prosecution.

Crown Prosecution Service data shows only 2,800 suspects investigated for rape in 2017/18 were charged - a 23.1% decline compared with 2016/17.

A record number of cases - more than 1,300 - were "administratively finalised", meaning police stopped their inquiries after advice from prosecutors or after a suspect went missing.

Rape case referrals from the police to the CPS also dropped by 9.1%.

EVAW said the lack of cases going to court reflected a change in approach from the CPS and was discriminatory against women and girls, representing a major failure in protecting their human rights.

Image source, Getty Images

Coalition co-director Sarah Green said: "We have strong evidence to show that CPS leaders have quietly changed their approach to decision-making in rape cases, switching from building cases based on their 'merits' back to second-guessing jury prejudices.

"This is extremely serious and is having a detrimental impact on women's access to justice."

The coalition is due to submit a "letter before action" to the CPS on Monday, urging it to review and change the way it handles serious sexual offence cases.

Once CPS lawyers receive the letter, they will then be given time to respond to the allegations or bid for an extension to the deadline.

If the CPS does not agree to change its policy, the matter could end up being decided by a judicial review in the courts.

The CPS said there had been no change in approach.

A spokesman said: "Victims have the right to ask for a review of their case by another prosecutor, independent of the original decision-maker, and this is another way we can make sure we are fair and transparent in what we do."

2 July 2019: The first paragraph of this article has been changed to make it clear that it concerns an allegation that has not been proven in court.

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