Ex-Durham Student Let Off Of Sexual Assault Charges After Saying Sorry To Complainant

Durham University student Christopher Twigg was cleared of three charges following issue with evidence…


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Updated on

An international rugby-playing Durham University student was let off of three sexual assault charges after giving a ‘heartfelt apology’ to the woman who alleged he’d attacked her.

On the second day of 20-year-old Christopher Twigg’s trial, the one-time Thailand rugby player was given the chance to make amends to his alleged victim without admitting any guilt.

The three allegations of sexual assault were each claimed to have happened in the first autumn semester of 2017, when the defendant was a Fresher. The latter two alleged incidents involved Twigg, the complainant claimed, touching her in a sexual way without consent.

On this occasion, Twigg was allegedly drunk and wearing a tutu, having just attended a university rugby social event.

He’s been suspended from Durham University since the allegations were made, and now works for his dad back home in Cheshire, reports the Daily Mail. And now he is cleared of three charges of sexual assault. At the beginning of what was expected to be a much longer trial, his defense lawyer, Sarah Forshaw, raised a concern about the evidence that the Crown Prosecution Service had provided.

This is what led to the meeting between the complainant and Twigg, where he made an apology to the complainant in an anteroom upstairs at Durham Crown Court.

After the meeting, prosecuting counsel Chris Baker told the court: ’Upon deliberation and consultation with the complainant a view was taken that a heartfelt apology to her would meet the public interest in this case. This has now taken place and she was content with the apology that she received.

'Myself, defence counsel and the officer overseeing this case were present and we were all agreed that it was a heartfelt apology for some dreadful behaviour that took place that night.

'The Crown's view is that we will now offer no evidence in the case.’

Judge Jonathan Carroll told Twigg ‘I understand that you have now apologised to the girl in this case and that both counsel have taken the view it was a genuine and heartfelt apology.

‘Go away and reflect how you behaved in drink so you never see yourself before the court again’

The jury heard no evidence and acquitted Twigg on Judge Carroll’s recommendation.

Restorative Justice

This sort of justice is called restorative justice, and it works by getting the complainant and defendant in a room together to reconcilliate without any legal blame being apportioned to either party. Normally this wouldn't happen at court, though.

Some people see restorative justice as a positive, less confrontational way of helping offenders rehabilitate than having them face up to their crimes in a courtroom and serve a sentence. It can also benefit victims who don’t want to go through a trial, and simply want assurance the incident won’t happen again.

Critics of restorative justice, however, are concerned that, in cases of crimes such as sexual offence or domestic violence, where offenders have already managed to manipulate their victims, they get another shot at this in a legally-endorsed setting, walking free safe in the knowledge they got away with it. Coming face to face with an offender can also re-traumatise a victim.

Additionally, due to the issue of evidence disclosure cited by Twigg’s lawyer, this case could also be one of many examples of a CPS that has been notoriously sloppy in preparing evidence for the courts, leading to many rape and sexual assault cases collapsing only once they reach trial.

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