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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 15:07 GMT
Woman wins rape prosecution bid
A woman who claims she was raped by a minicab driver on a quiet country road has won the first round of a High Court battle to ensure he is prosecuted.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told the Sheffield woman in April it was not planning to prosecute the man.

It cited her previous conviction for violence as one reason, despite the fact the woman had no such conviction.

Allowing a judicial review, Mr Justice Toulson said the CPS had clearly made a mistake by referring to the conviction.

Although he was not in a position to say at this preliminary hearing how "material" that error was, he said it did justify a full hearing of the woman's challenge.

Sheer terror

However, the judge warned her that she still had "a high hurdle to get over" in her battle to overturn the CPS's decision and should not assume she would in the end win her case.

The woman, who cannot be identified, claims the cab driver picked her up late at night in January this year and, instead of taking her on the short journey to her home, drove her to a country road and raped her.

She says she did not fight back because of sheer terror at what he might do to her.

Police were contacted when she got home but, in April, the CPS told her there was insufficient evidence on which the prosecute the cabbie.

The CPS said the woman showed "no signs of trauma"; there was no "clear corroboration" of her accusation and that her credibility in court would not be "strong" as she had a previous conviction for violence.

Decision 'perverse'

However, her barrister, Mr Alex Bailin, told the High Court in London that the woman had no such conviction and the reference to it was simply mistaken.

Attacking the CPS's refusal to prosecute the cabbie as "perverse", the barrister said a prosecution would be in the public interest and there was "a realistic chance of conviction".

The judge said the CPS now had the option of passing the case up to the highest authority - the Director of Public Prosecutions - who can instruct a fully independent lawyer to review the woman's complaint.

No date was set for the full hearing of the woman's judicial review challenge.

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