A 42-year-old man has been cleared of six counts of sexual assault following a report from a cell-site expert. The defendant was represented by Sam Parham and Yvonne Kramo of Garden Court Chambers.
The case had received local media coverage in the West Sussex County Times.
HR, a 42-year-old chef, had been accused of sexual assaults on six men on separate occasions, all aged in their 50s or 60s, in and around the small town of Henfield, West Sussex. He had been positively identified by two of the victims, but not by the other four.
HR, who worked in Henfield at the time, protested his innocence from the outset and said that it was a case of mistaken identity.
Defence enquiries established that, on several occasions, HR had been in London at the time the assaults in Henfield took place and, therefore, he could not have committed the offences. Evidence from HR’s GP and from a pharmacist proved that he had been in East London at the time of one offence and cell-site evidence showed that his mobile phone had been located in London on three occasions when assaults took place. Having received this material, the prosecution accepted that HR could not have been the perpetrator and offered no evidence on all counts.
Sam Parham, defence barrister to HR, has highlighted the importance of access to legal aid in cases such as this one:
“At a time when access to justice remains under threat, this case shows the vital importance of a properly-funded legal aid system: without specialist legal advice, extensive defence case preparation and the ability to fund expert reports, defendants such as HR risk being convicted of serious crimes they did not commit and miscarriages of justice will be commonplace.
It is increasingly difficult to find expert witnesses willing to provide reports for the rates that the Legal Aid Agency will pay. Parliament needs to undertake an emergency review of public funding of the criminal justice system to ensure that the rights of all who are accused by the state are protected.”
HR was represented by Sam Parham and Yvonne Kramo of Garden Court Chambers. They were instructed by Cislyn Spence of Edward, Fail, Bradshaw & Waterson, who commissioned the cell site report, following a grant of legal aid by the Legal Aid Agency. The report was written by John Cross of Diligence, London.