Sex assault case ‘fated from day one’ as lawyer decries troubles with technology
A sex assault trial has been put on hold after a prosecutor pulled out of the hearing in the face of persistent technology issues.
Becky Owen declared herself ‘professionally embarrassed’ by continued problems with the video system at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court, in Ipswich.
The trial of Scott Doughty began last Tuesday, when proceedings were moved between courtrooms due to constant flickering on the ClickShare wireless presentation screen.
Problems persisted in the alternative courtroom, where the screen worked but failed to pick up any sound from a recorded police interview of one of the alleged victims. Evidence was instead given, in person, by a second alleged victim.
The issue seemed to have been fixed overnight when an engineer was called out – but the second day of the trial was adjourned due to unrelated disclosure issues between prosecution and defence.
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The case resumed this Tuesday and began with three-quarters of the first alleged victim’s interview being played to the court – but the sound failed again when the second part was relayed from the prosecution’s laptop to the screen.
A short adjournment was followed by David Bryant taking the place of his fellow prosecutor, who declared herself so professionally embarrassed that she could not continue with the case.
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Mr Bryant told the court: “The agent can not see how the matter can proceed, and asks for it to be adjourned. She is very much aware of the stakes.”
Deputy District Judge Mark Studdert said: “We haven’t got very far into the evidence, for varying reasons.
“We have barely started this case, which is not a good comment on the state of affairs.
“I can not go behind Miss Owen’s decision. It seems to have been fated from day one.”
Ian Persaud, defending Doughty, made an application for wasted costs and said the issues had caused “tremendous problems for all parties”.
Doughty, 46, of Parliament Road, Ipswich, a manager at Gresham’s Sports and Social Club in Ipswich, denies seven offences against two teenage males between 2015 and 2017.
A date for the trial to restart will be set on Tuesday, March 20.
The rollout of ClickShare to magistrates’ courts was completed by the Criminal Justice System in 2015.