Judge Offers Unprecedented Support For Rape Victim- Daily Mail Newspaper- Exclusive News Story- ***January 2011***

This story tells how a woman subjected to a terrifying attack received an unprecendented letter of support from a judge even though the attacker was cleared of rape.

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I believed you: Judge's remarkable words of support to a woman after the violent offender who attacked her is cleared by a jury of rape


A woman subjected to a horrifying all-night attack has received unprecedented support from the trial judge after her tormentor was cleared of rape.

Stephen Stokes, who has previous convictions for violent attacks, was found guilty on a less serious accusation of assault causing actual bodily harm.

He was jailed for 27 months last month, but because of the amount of time he spent on remand before the trial, he is already about to be released.

Last night his victim vowed to continue her fight for justice as she revealed that she has been sent a letter from Judge Paul Darlow who, while trying to maintain his professional integrity, clearly states he believed her evidence.

His remarks came after the woman raised concerns about the trial: Her name and address were wrongly read out in court and a juror allegedly fell asleep.

A letter was sent to Judge Darlow by a rape support group, setting out her disgust at Stokes's acquittal.

His reply stated: 'Please convey my regards to Ms X. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for her taking the stand as she did and thereby subjecting herself not just to police investigation and examination but also to the further nightmare of court proceedings.

'To me her distress was obvious and genuine and I believed her.'

Andrew McFarlane, a Crown Prosecution Service barrister, has compiled a report on the case in which he praised the 39-year-old mother-of-two for her 'utterly convincing' testimony. He branded the jury's verdicts 'inconsistent and extraordinary'.

At Plymouth Crown Court, Stokes, 45, was cleared of two charges of rape, one of unlawful imprisonment and three further charges of assault by the jury of six men and six women.

Dejected: The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, feels let down by the judicial system

Dejected: The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, feels let down by the judicial system

The woman had been in a relationship with Stokes in 2009, but it broke down after she discovered he was a drug-dependent alcoholic and became violent towards her.

The court heard that he held her prisoner in his flat in Plymouth when she went to check on his mental and physical state after he had threatened to commit suicide. During his final attack on her, he forced his fingers down her throat so hard her tongue was torn away from the base, the court heard.

He dislocated her shoulder and fractured her skull by punching and kicking her and throwing her repeatedly against a wall. He dragged her to a window six floors up and threatened to throw her out.

According to the prosecution case in court, he then tore off her clothes, raped her repeatedly and tried to drink the blood from her wounds. Finally, at about 10am the next day he agreed to let his victim go.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the Mail: 'I don't know how I survived. I know Stokes wanted to kill me because he told me before he let me go.

'I used to be able to stand up for myself. Now I'm a wreck. I can't bear to go out my own front door because I am terrified I might bump into him. I have suffered the most terrifying flashbacks.

'I cannot fault the way the police have treated me, but I have been let down by the judicial system.'

The Judicial Communications Office said: 'The views expressed by Judge Darlow were personal reflections designed to help the victim. No criticism was made, or intended, of the jury who will have made their decision on the basis of all the evidence before them.'

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