A Supreme Court jury in an historical sex assault trial was asked yesterday if they trusted the evidence of the alleged victims.

As the trial came to a close, Charles Richardson, for the defence, reminded the jury that the elder of the alleged victims had twice lied about being sexually assaulted in the past.

He added that the younger of the alleged victims gave evidence that was too vague to stake a conviction on.

Mr Richardson said: “Giving a not guilty plea doesn’t mean these girls haven’t suffered before, but instead it’s an assessment based on the evidence’s reliability and the accuracy of the facts.”

The defendant, 59, has denied nine charges related to sexual offences against two young sisters, including unlawful carnal knowledge, attempted unlawful carnal knowledge and sexual exploitation. The alleged crimes were said to have happened in the early to mid-1990s.

Neither he nor the two alleged victims can be identified for legal reasons.

Mr Richardson admitted to the jury that child sex assault allegations rightfully made people disgusted and drew sympathy.

But he reminded jurors that “the myth isn’t true, that just because someone says something happened that it’s true”.

Mr Richardson said that they had a duty to judge the defendant to be innocent unless faced with overwhelming and convincing evidence.

He added that “the devil’s in the details” and that, when it came to the younger sister, she had very little detail to offer outside of an accusation.

Mr Richardson further said that the only evidence to back up the claims were from the elder alleged victim, who had made similar as a teenager.

He said: “I hate to say it, but the woman is a proven liar. [Crown prosecutor Nicole Smith] may say you can still trust her, but I don’t.”

Mr Richardson added: “What more could [the defendant] say other than ‘I didn’t do it’?”

Nicole Smith, for the Crown, argued that witnesses to sex offences were by their very nature limited to the victims themselves.

She said: “I ask you, members of the jury, what gain would the young ladies have to come to court and tell you what is the most intimate details of their lives – the good, the bad, and the ugly – if it were not true?

“They have children now and their own lives. Why would they fabricate these incidents of abuse?

“I invite you to keep this in the forefront of your minds during your deliberations.”

Ms Smith said that the defendant was “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” who took advantage of the girls’ absentee parents to “use them as he liked”.

She said that evidence from the two alleged victims, as well as their eldest sister, corroborated each other’s stories such as recognising a white van that the older alleged victim said she was assaulted in.

Ms Smith added that, while the sisters had come out to support each other in the trial, there was nothing inherently wrong with this.

Ms Smith noted that some of the witnesses had brought forward information during the trial that had not been previously mentioned to police.

But she said: “Isn’t it the case that sometimes, when you think about an incident, you recall more details?”

Ms Smith said that, while the older alleged victim had lied about being sexually assaulted in the past, this was done while she was young and afraid.

She added that this woman would have nothing to gain by telling a similar lie 30 years later.

She said that, while the defence might argue that the alleged victims were trying to “throw the defendant under the bus”, they had too much to lose by telling these stories.

Ms Smith said: “Members of the jury, these women have families, children, lives.

“You are strangers to which they tell their stories – why would the take time out of their lived to tell you the most intimate, embarrassing, and hurtful incidents that they endured as young girls?

“What reason would they have to to say these things about the defendant if it were not true?”

The jury will deliberate on a verdict today.

Royal Gazette