Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 13:29 UK

Rape trial woman seeks law change

Peter Bacon
Peter Bacon's identity was not protected

A lawyer who lost her claim of rape against chef Peter Bacon has called for different categories of the crime to be introduced along the lines of assault.

Mr Bacon, 26, was cleared last week of rape at Winchester Crown Court when the lawyer admitted she had been too drunk to remember what happened.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 live, she said different degrees of rape would increase conviction rates.

But campaigners Women Against Rape said all rapes should be treated the same.

The court had been told the lawyer, a friend and Mr Bacon had drunk about five bottles of wine over an evening before the friend left, leaving Mr Bacon and the woman alone.

FROM BBC RADIO 5 LIVE

Mr Bacon, from Kent, described her performing a sex act on him and the pair then having intercourse.

The woman said she does not remember any of these events but is "convinced" she could not have had sex with him voluntarily.

She claimed the fact that she could not remember showed she was not capable of consenting to sex.

However, the judge told the jury that the argument was "completely wrong".

Burden of proof

Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire programme, the woman, who is in her 40s, said it was difficult for the jury to convict because the burden or proof is "really high".

"Rape conviction rates are 6%. That's appallingly out of kilter with the rate of conviction for ever other kind of offence.

"I believe that in the same way there are different types of assault, there should be different types of rape."

She pointed out that assault crimes range from common assault, which can result in community service, to grievous bodily harm, which results in a jail term.

Rape is rape - it doesn't matter who does it to you
Bridget Symonds
Women Against Rape

Similarly, she said, there should be a distinction between a serial rapist putting women through ordeals at knifepoint and young lovers who are drunk and the man "takes advantage of the situation".

However Gabrielle Browne, who was a victim of attempted rape and has waived her right to anonymity, said courts were right to treat "date rape" and marital rape as no less serious than rape by a stranger because the effect on the victim is just as serious.

And John Cooper, a criminal barrister and vice-chair of the Bar Council public affairs committee, said: "The violation of the human body is the violation of the human body.

"Where one can distinguish is in sentencing. The judge will take into account the particular circumstances of the case.

"Beyond that, I'm not sure how much further we can go."

Bridget Symonds, of Women Against Rape, said different categories of rape would "make no difference" to the conviction rates.

"Rape is rape. It doesn't matter who does it to you. In fact, if it's done to you by someone that you know, it's almost worse. It's an abuse of trust."

She said the problem lay with police not collecting evidence properly.

The lawyer said she believed Mr Bacon should also have been given anonymity.

She added that she "had every reason to hate Mr Bacon" but since the incident she had become a Christian and had forgiven him.

"Looking into Mr Bacon's eyes I could see that the last 13 months had aged him.

"I could see he had suffered."



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