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Appeal Against Conviction on the Grounds of Social Media Comments

RC v HM Advocate

A man found guilty of rape who claimed that the complainer’s social media posts showed that she had lied to the court about how the incident affected her has had a appeal dismissed.

He claimed that this was fresh evidence and showed that the witnesses were “not credible and reliable”, but Appeal Court held that there had been “no miscarriage of justice”. The appellant “RC” was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment after being convicted of a charge of rape.

He claimed in his appeal that that the complainer’s social media posts demonstrated that she lied when giving evidence about how the rape had affected her, and it was also suggested that she lied about the contact she had with the complainer. This evidence was only brought to light after the conviction.

The test on appeal was whether the material would have raised a “reasonable doubt” in the minds of the members of the jury. It was stated that at the trial, in response to questioning by the advocate depute the complainer gave evidence that since the appellant’s attack upon her she was: unable to do the things she normally did including going to work and having a relationship or sexual contact with anyone no longer interested her. However her Facebook posts near the time of the offence indicated that she was working, going to college and going on nights out.

On appeal the appellant argued that if this information was available at the time this would have been put to the complainer in order to assess her creditability. The Lockerbie appeal was referred to as this set out the test for fresh evidence, Al Megrahi v Her Majesty’s Advocate 2002 JC 99. In the present case for the Crown it was submitted that whether the complainer had been out and about after the rape and how it had affected her, was “neither here nor there” and they were not key facts in the Trial. Lord Malcolm concluded: ““The evidence must be of such significance that its absence at the original proceedings amounts to a miscarriage of justice. In the view of the court, these tests are not met.

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