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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
'No excuses' for rape case trauma
Lindsay family outside court
Linda Armstrong: "She was petrified"
Justice Minister Jim Wallace has offered his condolences to the mother of a teenage rape victim who committed suicide after recounting her ordeal in court.

Lindsay Armstrong had to give evidence at the trial of the 15-year-old boy who sexually assaulted her.

Her parents said that the 17-year-old took an overdose because she was humiliated by the rape ordeal and by going into the witness box.

Her attacker, who cannot be named because he is under 16, was sentenced to four years detention when he appeared at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday.

Lindsay Armstrong
Lindsay Armstrong took a fatal overdose

Lindsay's mother Linda Armstrong told BBC Radio Scotland's Lesley Riddoch programme that the accused had been the first person her daughter saw when she arrived at court for the trial.

"He was standing outside the court door and Lindsay was petrified straight away," she said.

Mrs Armstrong said her daughter had found it particularly humiliating to be asked in court to hold up the underwear she had been wearing at the time of the attack.

Mr Wallace said he hoped such incidents could be avoided by the new Sexual Offences Bill, which comes into force later this year.

Sexual character

"We have tried to put it in such a way that if the accused starts to raise questions regarding the character or sexual history of the complainer then that would create a presumption of disclosing any previous sexual offences which the accused has been convicted of," he said.

"That is the safeguard we have tried to put in to discourage gratuitous cross-examination or gratuitous evidence about the sexual character of the complainer."

He agreed that the case of Miss Armstrong had been far from satisfactory.

Jim Wallace
Jim Wallace: "My heart goes out"

"My heart goes out because of what has happened and there is no way we are going to try and make excuses," he added.

"Parliament has tried to build into the system ways in which it can increase the confidence of people coming forward."

The boy was found guilty in June of sexually assaulting Miss Armstrong near her home in New Cumnock, Ayrshire, last September.

The judge, Lord McEwan, offered his sympathy to the girl's family as he passed sentence at the High Court in Glasgow.

He also told the boy that he was a threat to females, and placed him under a supervision order for three years after his release from detention.

See also:

31 Jul 02 | Scotland
19 Jul 02 | Scotland
18 Jul 02 | Wales
06 Mar 02 | Scotland
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