Beds, Herts & Bucks

Barbados rapes: Victims say innocent man charged

Beach in Barbados
Image caption The attacks took place in Holetown St James, Barbados, in October 2010

Two British women say they are "absolutely convinced" the man accused of raping them in Barbados is innocent after meeting him at a court hearing.

Researcher Dr Rachel Turner, from Hertfordshire, and Diane Davies, of Anglesey, north Wales, were attacked within days of each other in 2010.

Barbadian Derick Crawford, 47, has been charged with the attacks, but the pair are certain he was not the rapist.

Police in Barbados said the "evidence strongly supports" the charge.

Dr Turner and Mrs Davies said they are concerned that while the Royal Barbados Police (RBP) continue to support the prosecution of Mr Crawford, the real rapist is free to attack again.

The two women, who have waived their right to anonymity, say Mr Crawford looks and sounds nothing like the man who attacked them in Holetown St James.

'Incensed'

Dr Turner, 30, who grew up near Letchworth, Hertfordshire, and holds a research post at the University of the West Indies, was attacked as she walked along a path to the beach in October 2010.

Two days later Mrs Davies, who was on holiday, was assaulted in the same area.

Dr Turner said: "The person who attacked me was in their early 30s. This person (Mr Crawford) was 47 and has a scar on his face, features that are completely different."

Mrs Davies said: "The attacker was at least 10 years younger than this man. He was taller, chubbier and had a round face. He (Mr Crawford) is nothing like him."

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Image caption Dr Rachel Turner says she is "convinced" of the innocence of her alleged attacker

Dr Turner believes the Barbados police are not concerned about who they convict for the crime as long as the case appears to have been solved.

"I think that the Barbados police are ignoring a problem until it goes away. I'm not prepared to watch them sweep it under the carpet. I don't want them to get away with it and the person who committed these crimes is still free and, of course, he might rape again," she said.

Mrs Davies added: "The man who did do it is still out there and they (the police) are not attempting to find him. We are convinced they have arrested this man to protect the tourism industry. We are incensed by it all."

Mrs Davies flew out to Barbados to attend a committal hearing due to take place on Tuesday.

Although the hearing was adjourned until Friday, both Dr Turner and Mrs Davies met Mr Crawford for the first time.

"Diane... and I spoke to him and I am absolutely convinced that he is not the man who raped me, as is Diane," said Dr Turner.

President of the Barbados Bar Association Andrew Pilgrim, who is representing Mr Crawford, said he was concerned that after 18 months the police had not provided him with forensic evidence.

'Highly regarded'

"I would have had full disclosure on the DNA evidence whether they favour him (Mr Crawford) or don't favour him," he said.

The prosecution case against Mr Crawford appears to be relying on a confession from Mr Crawford which has since been retracted.

RBP Police Commissioner Darwin Dottin said in a statement: "The team of investigators who were tasked with investigating these assaults are firmly of the view that the evidence strongly supports the decision to arrest and charge Mr Crawford.

"The Royal Barbados Police Force has an excellent reputation in the law enforcement community and is highly regarded. This is not to say that we never make mistakes. On the contrary, on such occasions, it is our policy to admit our failings.

"To suggest that we put the reputation of our country before the welfare and comfort of our visitors is utterly wrong. Almost one million visitors come to Barbados each year. The overwhelming number of these visits are incident free."

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