A rape trial due to be heard at Snaresbrook Crown Court later this month collapsed at the pre-trial hearing today because vital photographs on the defendant’s phone were not disclosed as evidence by the prosecuting solicitor.
In a letter to the defendant’s solicitor, Hodge Jones & Allen four days before the hearing, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) bringing the case said that the new evidence meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction due to material being provided by the defence.
28-year-old Samson Makele, originally from Eritrea, was accused of raping a 35-year-old woman he met following the Notting Hill Carnival in August 2016. The couple took a taxi back to Mr Makele’s flat in Hackney where they had sex and the woman stayed the night.
The next day she went to police and told them Mr Makele had raped her and prevented her from leaving his flat. She said she only managed to escape after he fell asleep. Mr Makele denied the charge and said sex with the woman was consensual.
As is customary, the police seized Mr Makele’s phone and downloaded its data as evidence. The Crown subsequently reported on file that apart from text messages showing contact between the couple after the event, there was nothing else of interest on the phone that was disclosable.
It was only later when an independent download by the defence also analysed the phone that more than a dozen photographs showing the couple apparently cuddling in bed together were discovered.
Paris Theodorou, a criminal defence, lawyer at London law firm Hodge Jones & Allen defending Mr Makele, then served the images from the phone to the CPS as evidence.
Mr Theodorou said it was unbelievable that his client was subjected to 18 months of hell with the criminal accusation hanging over him.
“The failure to obtain the photographs by the police made Mr Makele’s life intolerable and traumatic while he waited for the truth to emerge. It is clearly vital that criminal defence solicitors are tech savvy enough to conduct their own analysis in parallel to those undertaken by the police.
“Rape is one of the most serious crimes. An error in judgement or an inaccuracy in unveiling evidence, on either side, can cause irreparable damage. There is simply no room for error when an individual’s freedom is on the line.
“Any type of sexual allegation needs to be respected thoroughly and examined as such. This is the only way justice can ever be applied.”
Mr Makele said that the 18-month ordeal had left him unable to function properly. “I cannot sleep, I can’t go anywhere, even for a day,” he said.
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Notes for Editors
Hodge Jones and Allen
- Hodge Jones and Allen is one of the UK’s most progressive law firms, renowned for doing things differently and fighting injustice. Its managing partner is Patrick Allen, recently awarded a lifetime achievement award by Solicitors Journal.
- For 40 years’ the firm has been at the centre of many of the UK’s landmark legal cases that have changed the lives and rights of many people.
- The firm’s team of specialists have been operating across: Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Industrial Disease, Civil Liberties, Criminal Defence, Court of Protection, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Family Law, Military Claims, Serious Fraud, Social Housing, Wills & Probate and Property Disputes.
- In 2016, the firm launched Hearing their voices – a campaign to raise awareness and build conversations around the issues and the injustices we might all face.