Robert Newcombe secures acquittal in “historic” rape trial

Robert Newcombe
Robert Newcombe August 13, 2015

Robert Newcombe secures client’s acquittal in “historic” rape trial. “Bad character” evidence of both complainant and defendant was admissible at trial.

Robert Newcombe this week secured the acquittal of a man accused of raping (and otherwise sexually assaulting) his son around a decade ago. Successful submissions were made to admit the “bad character” of the complainant, as the “important matter in issue” was the complainant’s credibility. The defendant had a previous conviction for a sexual offence, and the Crown made a Bad Character application for it to be admitted as evidence of propensity; but the learned judge accepted the defence submissions that this offence was not admissible as evidence of propensity, for a number of reasons, given the factual differences between the conviction and the index offences.

The defendant’s conviction was however admitted in evidence by agreement between the parties as background and was also admissible due to the attack on the complainant’s character – but not as evidence of propensity. After reviewing the recent five judge Court of Appeal authority in R v Hunter [2015] EWCA Crim 631, a “modified” bad character direction relating to the defendant’s conviction was given in the Summing Up, (being a short reference to the defendant’s credibility). In addition, a bad character direction was given in relation to the complainant’s character.

Robert was instructed on this matter by Paul Watson & Co in Middlesbrough.

For any advice on cases involving credibility of witnesses, contact Mr Newcombe’s clerks at

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