A juror has spoken of his shock over the poor quality of evidence in a sex case that saw a student spend five months in prison before his trial collapsed.
The man came forward because he believed it was wrong for police and prosecutors to potentially ruin 24-year-old John Bate’s life when they had little chance of convicting him.
Police arrested Mr Bate, of Simpson Road, Ham, on March 17 after two women and two teenage girls were attacked within six weeks near Teddington Lock.
Jurors listened to nearly two days of evidence at Kingston Crown Court before Judge David Higgins directed them on Thursday, August 2, to find him not guilty of two counts of sexual assault, one count of attempted sexual assault, one count of exposure and one count of assault by beating.
The judge criticised the “extraordinarily inept case” before the trial, saying he doubted the same man was responsible for all the offences after victims gave differing descriptions of their attacker’s height and one said he had black hair.
The juror told the Richmond and Twickenham Times: “It just seems so wrong that cases like these get to trial and ruin someone's life without any evidence.
“This case forced victims of a crime to go through their trauma again, what on earth were the police and CPS doing?”
He said he had serious concerns about the evidence he heard, including police asking Mr Bate where he was at 1pm, instead of 1am - the time of one of the attacks.
Officers also did not show a knitted red scarf they seized from the student’s grandmother’s house to the victim who described it, he said.
The CPS said it decided to charge Mr Bate based on evidence police had provided and it was looking into the judge’s concerns.
Officers questioned a second person on March 7 this year, before arresting Mr Bate 10 days later.
Detectives’ attention was said to have been drawn to Mr Bate, a student at Kingston College, partly because of his distinctive hairstyle.
Mr Bate was acquitted of allegations he put his hand up the skirt of a 14-year-old as she walked to her grandmother’s house, on January 24, covered the mouth of a second victim before she struggled free, on February 25, and masturbated in front of a 21-year-old student on March 6.
He was also found not guilty of groping a 17-year-old girl on the stairs of the footbridge at Teddington Lock on February 12.