Jail terms for halted trial rapists

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Published: Friday 13th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Three men who were found guilty of raping a woman despite a judge trying to stop their trial because he did not think there was enough evidence for a conviction have all been jailed for six years.

Pawel Chudzicki, 49, Michael Armitage, 44, and Rafal Segiet, 40, raped a 23-year-old woman at a flat in Lincoln in 2012.

Judge John Pini QC, who jailed the men at Lincoln Crown Court today, ordered their trial to be halted halfway through due to lack of evidence but this decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal in an unusual move.

The jury went on to convict the three men earlier this week.

Judge Pini made no mention of the Court of Appeal intervention in his trial when he sentenced the trio today.

He described how the woman had already had a lot to drink when she was picked up by three men, including two of the defendants, outside a Lincoln nightclub in October 2012 and taken to a party.

The judge said the woman consumed more alcohol at the party where she had sex with each of the three men in turn.

Her sexual activity with Armitage was filmed on a phone.

Judge Pini said she was “used as a shared commodity” by the defendants.

He told them: “All three of you had sex with her when she was so intoxicated she was helpless.”

And he said: “She had lost the capacity to evaluate, discriminate and make meaningful choices.”

The judge told all three men: “She had no capacity to consent. You all had no reasonable belief she was consenting.”

The court was told that divorced father-of-two Armitage served with distinction in the British Army for 10 years, including in the first Gulf War. Segiet and Chudzicki are both Polish nationals who came to the UK to work.

Chudzicki is a father of three and forklift truck driver Segiet is a father of two.

Judge Pini ruled that there was no case to answer at the end of the prosecution case last month.

According to the Court of Appeal, Judge Pini told the court at the time: “I’ve found this case extremely interesting and extremely difficult.

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

Judge Pini said: ” We are left in the position that 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.

“This is a uniquely difficult situation where, as opposed to (the case which is one of the leading legal authorities on these issues) there is a total absence of any evidence as to consent.

“I do not want this ruling to be misunderstood – I am absolutely not saying that a woman in drink cannot say no.

“I am not saying that lack of memory equals consent. I am simply saying that the prosecution must make the jury sure that at the material time which here is, save in the case of Michael Armitage, unknown, she lacked the capacity to consent as opposed to being able to form a drunken intent, and now having forgotten what may have happened.

“And in my judgment on that vital issue there is a deficit of evidence.”

The three judges in the Court of Appeal, including Lord Justice Treacy, said they had viewed the phone footage of Armitage and the woman.

They said: ” It appears to us that (the woman) 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.

“Such a conclusion is entirely a matter for the jury.”

The judges said: “In the judge’s ruling he failed to make any reference to the video clips of Armitage.

“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.

“Accordingly we are satisfied that the decision made was not reasonable and we reverse the judge’s ruling and indicate that there is a case to answer.”

Published: Friday 13th February 2015 by The News Editor

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