7:43pm Tuesday 26th August 2014
© Press Association 2014
The rape conviction rate will not improve until women stop drinking so heavily, a former judge has said.
Judge Mary Jane Mowat, who retired this month, told the Oxford Mail she had presided over back-to-back trials where a female complainant had been so drunk she could not remember what happened.
The 66-year-old, who has worked at Oxford Crown Court, said: "It is an inevitable fact of it being one person's word against another, and the burden of proof being that you have to be sure before you convict.
"I will also say, and I will be pilloried for saying so, but the rape conviction statistics will not improve until women stop getting so drunk.
"I'm not saying it's right to rape a drunken woman, I'm not saying for a moment that it's allowable to take advantage of a drunken woman.
"But a jury in a position where they've got a woman who says 'I was absolutely off my head, I can't really remember what I was doing, I can't remember what I said, I can't remember if I consented or not but I know I wouldn't have done'. I mean when a jury is faced with something like that, how are they supposed to react?"
The circuit judge of 18 years, who stepped down on August 1, also raised concerns about the automatic release of prisoners on fixed-term sentences half-way through their time, the newspaper reported.
Prisoners spend the second half of their sentence on licence and if they break any conditions of their release they can be returned to prison.
The former judge said the public was never told this would happen, " it was done by a sort of statutory regulation".
She added: "The public are beginning to wake up to it but it has been happening for years, quietly, without it ever being announced. So that's why I say it's a fraud on the public. It has been done to empty the prisons, because they just haven't got enough places in prisons, they are bursting."
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