Northern Ireland

Rape victim criticises trial process at independent review

Sabrina Barton
Image caption Sabrina Barton says the process of going to trial is 'unbearable'

A rape victim has criticised how the trial involving her attacker was handled.

Sabrina Barton, from Omagh, County Tyrone, is taking part in a review into how such cases are conducted in Northern Ireland.

It is being carried out by retired judge Sir John Gillen.

It follows a high-profile trial in which two rugby players were found not guilty of rape in March.

Ms Barton waived her right to anonymity to speak to BBC News NI.

She said taking part in the review was worthwhile.

"The process doesn't have to be as unbearable as it is. It could be a lot easier.

Image caption Sir John will be supported by an advisory panel, which will include victims representatives, academics and legal practitioners

Ms Barton said she was not made aware of things that were admitted into evidence such as photos of the crime scene, questions about clothing and "previous intimate relationships".

"Things like that knock you sideways when you're not prepared for questions of that nature.

"You don't get a lot of information about the process that is ahead of you," she added.

Image copyright Getty Images/Canva

In looking at whether such trials should be held fully in public, she says she found it difficult discussing "adult themes" while there were young children in the public gallery.

"I don't think that is appropriate and I don't think that should be allowed to happen".

Ms Barton says she feels lucky that her attacker was found guilty but that it was also important for her recovery to be part of the review process.

"What else can you do other than try to make sure it just doesn't happen anymore?"

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