A Judge has hit out at delays in the criminal justice system after a rape trial took 21 months to be resolved at court.
Judge Simon Newell was speaking after the conclusion of week-long trial at Burnley Crown Court, where the Hyndburn defendant was found not guilty of rape.
He said the delays ‘must cause psychological harm, distress, upset and possibly even damage’ to both the complainant and defendant and that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.
Mark Lamberty, for the Crown Prosecuting Service (CPS), told the court that took the reviewing lawyer was also dealing with 125 other cases at the time.
He said: “It’s a situation where there’s simply not sufficient resources in terms of personnel to deal with the volume of these serious cases.
Judge Newell agreed and said the CPS work ‘extremely hard, extremely diligently and very efficiently going above and beyond the call of duty’ but said despite that ‘the system is falling down’.
The court heard how the case started in August 2013 after a complaint was made to the police and didn’t come to trial until earlier this month.
Judge Newell said: “It took three to four months for the police to do their full investigation and that seems to me to be reasonable.
“The other best part of 18 months just seems to be wholly wrong and isn’t or has been fair to either of the two young people who are involved in this case.
“We need a good, strong, sound and well-resourced service because they act particularly in the interest of victims. “We haven’t got one. It just seems to me wrong the criminal justice system is partied to this sort of thing. It’s an old adage that we were taught early in our training that justice delayed is justice denied.
“Delays don’t put the criminal justice system in a good light.”
Judge Newell said the case was ‘not particularly complicated’ and did ‘not concern a lot of witnesses’.
He said: “The only real explanation can be an overload of work and lack of resources to do the work coming through the courts or through the CPS.
“As these are public courts then what’s going on or not going on, or how it’s going on ought to be in the public domain so the public knows what’s happening.”
When contacted by the Accrington Observer, the CPS declined to comment.