Press Ban Lifted in Sex Abuse Case

December 13, 2017

The press ban in respect of the major sexual abuse trial being prosecuted by Oliver Saxby QC at Oxford Crown Court has been relaxed so as to permit reporting of various aspects of the case.

The trial commenced on 9th October. It is one of the largest of its type ever conducted. There are eleven defendants and six complainants. To make the complex evidence easier to follow, the Crown’s case has been presented, by complainant, in six separate and distinct ‘chapters’. Having called a complainant, the Crown have gone on to deal with that complainant’s supporting evidence, the relevant defendants’ arrests and interviews and pertinent Agreed Facts. The jury have been assisted by a number of trial documents (including tables and schedules) setting out the counts alleged, respective identifications, relevant associations and other links.

The allegations date back to the late 1990s and span a period of about 7 years. The Crown allege widespread sexual exploitation and grooming, largely in and around Oxford, by a group of local males. The six complainants were aged between 14 and 17 at the time and are now adults. Each is a vulnerable witness. Four gave evidence via VRIs/Live Link but two chose to give evidence ‘live’ and so had to be examined in chief on the detailed accounts they had provided. The second of these gave the police a large number of witness statements containing information not always in sequential order. As a result, the Crown prepared a fully-referenced ‘evidence in chief plan’ to assist in taking her through her account. This ensured as streamlined a presentation of her evidence as possible.

The Crown closed its case late last week and the defence cases began this week. The first defendant to give evidence – the fourth-named on the indictment – completed his evidence yesterday. The defence cases are expected to be completed by Christmas, with closing speeches and summing up in the New Year.

In all, there are 36 counts of rape/conspiracy to rape, indecent assault and sexual activity (under both the old law and the new law). Complex factual issues aside, the case involves substantial issues of law, in particular on the topics of bad character, cross-admissibility, identification and consent.

Oliver Saxby QC is leading Alan Gardner and Lauren Sales (both of 23 Essex St). They are instructed by the Complex Case Unit, CPS Thames Chiltern.