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Mutual Corroboration Appeal Refused

HMA v Graham Waton 2019

Mr Watson who appealed against his conviction has had this refused at the High Court in Edinburgh. The appellant argued that the offences of rape and sexual assault that he was found guilty of in August 2018 were not similar enough to provide “mutual corroboration.” He was sentenced to five years imprisonment for the offences. However, the appeal court did not agree and decided that the jury were entitled to conclude the conduct was a “single course of conduct persistently pursued by the appellant”.

The two charges related to two different women in two different locations on the same evening. Both complainers attended a family party with the appellant and were significantly younger than him, aged 19 and 25 while he was 46. The appellant argued that the conduct of the sexual assault, which included rubbing the complainer’s thigh, with no intent of rape, could not be enough for the jury to conclude that the accused was pursuing a single course of conduct. The trial judge stated it could as the attacks were on a sexual nature during the course of the party on woman of a similar age.

The appeal court agreed. On concluding the appeal Lord Justice General said: “In a case in which rape, including the use of force, is libelled, it will be seldom that mutual corroboration is afforded by proof of an assault by rubbing another woman’s leg on a different occasion at a different time. It may be regarded as unlikely that the two incidents could be regarded as a single course of conduct. It is, however, a question of fact and degree. In this case, it is significant that the two incidents occurred within hours of each other. They were both connected to the same celebration which was attended by both complainers and the appellant. They both involved the appellant, who was 46, assaulting young women.’’ It was therefore concluded the jury were entitled to come to this decision and the appeal was upheld.

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