Lincolnshire

Rapists guilty after Lincoln Crown Court judge overruled

Lincoln Crown Court
Image caption The trial at Lincoln Crown Court was halted when the judge said there was not enough evidence for a conviction

Three men have been convicted of rape, despite a judge trying to stop their trial because of a lack of evidence.

Judge John Pini QC halted the trial of Michael Armitage, Pawel Chudzicki and Rafal Segiet saying it could not be proved the woman did not have the capacity to consent.

In an unusual move, the prosecution challenged the decision and the Court of Appeal overruled the judge.

The men will be sentenced on Friday at Lincoln Crown Court.

'I don't remember'

Armitage, 44, of Oldham, Chudzicki, 49, and Segiet, 40, both of Lincoln, were on trial for raping a 23-year-old woman at a flat in the city after meeting her in a nightclub last October.

The court heard she had drunk more than 12 shots of vodka and had little memory of what happened.

Under cross-examination, she said: "It could all have happened consensually and I don't remember it."

After submissions from the defence to stop the trial, Judge Pini said: "I've found this case extremely interesting and extremely difficult.

"In my judgement there is insufficient evidence from which the jury could determine lack of capacity and I will withdraw the case from the jury."

"There is no evidence from which the jury could say she lacked capacity as opposed to simply having no recollection of events which may have been consented to."

'Inert and unresponsive'

But his decision was challenged by the prosecution in the Court of Appeal and three judges, led by Lord Justice Treacy, overturned his ruling.

They said the trial judge failed to make any reference to video clips of Armitage having sex with the woman.

"It appears to us that [the victim] is depicted throughout as being sufficiently inert and unresponsive as to leave it open to a properly directed jury to be sure that she was not consenting and that she did not have the freedom and capacity to do so," the appeal judges said.

"Such a conclusion is entirely a matter for the jury... issues of consent and capacity to consent should normally be left to a jury to determine.

"We consider that this was a serious and significant omission and that when the evidence available in Armitage's case is considered, there was indeed a case to go to the jury."

The court found the cases of Chudzicki and Segiet should also have been left to the jury to determine.

The trial resumed and on Tuesday the jury found all three men guilty of rape. Segiet was convicted of two other sexual offences and Chudzicki one other sexual offence.

All three will be sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court on Friday.

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