Decision not to charge man over Sunderland rape allegation upheld after review

The scene in Peel Street last year.
The scene in Peel Street last year.

The decision not to charge a man arrested in connection with a rape investigation in Sunderland has been upheld following a review by a legal expert.

A woman alleged she was subjected to a sex attack at an address in Peel Street, Hendon, overnight between Saturday, September 3, and Sunday, September 4, last year.

The complainant in this case has been provided with a detailed explanation of this decision in writing and her legal representative has also met CPS prosecutors to discuss the outcome.

Crown Prosecution Service spokesman

Six men were arrested as part of an investigation by Northumbria Police, which then put together a file of evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in relation to one suspect for a single allegation of rape and assault.

However, the CPS took the decision there was “insufficient evidence” to proceed with any court case.

The woman was then given the opportunity to ask for the evidence to be reviewed under the CPS Victim’s Right to Review (VRR) schem, with leading police officers “actively encouraging” her to take up the offer.

That was accepted in June, with the CPS now stating a final decision has now been made and no further review will be made by its officials.

The CPS has also previously addressed “damaging claims” and “inaccurate articles” written about the incident, largely via social media.

Demonstrations have been held in the city in support of the woman and a petition was also handed into police.

The Echo reported on the assault allegations when they were first investigated by the police and the subsequent arrests and decision not to charge anyone.

We have received numerous inquiries asking why we have not covered the gatherings in the city centre.

However, the woman who made the report, contacted the Echo on more than one occasion to insist nothing is reported about the matter.

In its latest statement, a CPS spokesman said: “A case involving an alleged rape on Peel Street, Sunderland, in September 2016 has been reviewed under the CPS Victim’s Right to Review (VRR) scheme.

“All the evidence provided by the police was reviewed in full by a prosecutor with no previous involvement in the case.

“The reviewing prosecutor upheld the initial CPS decision that the case failed to meet the evidential test and did not provide a realistic prospect of conviction for the offences of rape or assault.

“The complainant in this case has been provided with a detailed explanation of this decision in writing and her legal representative has also met CPS prosecutors to discuss the outcome.”

The service has said CCTV and forensic evidence “significantly undermined” any assertion the complainant had been kidnapped or drugged or that multiple assailants had been involved in attack of the nature which has been suggested online.

Northumbria Police’s Southern Area Commander Ged Noble has previously said: “Northumbria Police fully and properly investigated the matter and ensured the victim was treated with compassion, expertly supported and kept updated.

“On receiving the complaint, Northumbria Police made early arrests and conducted an extensive investigation.

“Officers sensitively gained the complainant’s recollection of the event, secured CCTV footage, interviewed independent witnesses and obtained DNA and other forensic samples.

“In accordance with regulations the suspects were bailed pending the results of forensic tests and following the result a full file-of-evidence was passed to the CPS, who alone have statutory responsibility to make a decision on whether or not criminal charges are brought.

“The CPS took the decision that no action should be taken, in accordance with the evidential test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.”