A judge threw out “incriminatory” evidence against a rape accused after branding a detective investigating the case “evasive” and “not credible”.
Jake Hawkins, 22, was last week found not guilty of raping a woman at a flat in Dundee in August 2016 following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.
It has emerged trial judge Lady Scott barred the jury from hearing Hawkins’ police interview during the case after ruling detectives’ questioning of him “wholly improper”.
She found it inadmissible after ruling detectives had sought to “undermine” Hawkins’ lawyer – who had told him to answer “no comment” to all questions.
He told the court that police made him feel his solicitor “didn’t care or know what he was doing” and that the brief who had given him advice before his interview was “rubbish and didn’t know what was going on”.
As a result, after more than an hour of maintaining his right to silence, Hawkins said he “didn’t know whether he could trust his lawyer” and that he was “making a bad decision listening to the solicitor”.
He then told officers: “f*** it, it seemed wrong saying no comment”, before giving a lengthy narrative of “incriminatory” statements to police.
But Lady Scott ruled the interview was “tainted” because of “undue pressure” applied to Hawkins.
She said statements given by accused people must be “spontaneous and voluntary” and that the Crown “had not established this interview was fair and the statements made can properly be said to be voluntary”.
And in a scathing section of a 12-page written judgment, the judge blasted one officer – identified only as DC Anderson of Tayside Division in Dundee – and said cops had effectively “cross-examined” Hawkins, a tactic long ruled illegal.
The judge said: “I did not find DC Anderson a credible witness.
“On occasions he did not always directly answer questions and he shifted his position (for example as to whether he had misled the accused).
“I found him evasive and in particular I found his denial that he sought to undermine the legal advice given, not credible.
“I accepted the evidence of the accused.
“In particular I accepted that he understood the statements made about his solicitor was that the solicitor gave him bad advice and the effect upon him was he did not know whether he could trust him.”
Lady Scott added that Hawkins was asked 213 separate questions about the alleged rape – and had replied “no comment” to each one.
The detectives insisted they were “impartial” – but then told Hawkins they believed he was responsible for the rape and knew he had done wrong.
They also told Hawkins his lawyer didn’t know what evidence they had against him – which the cops knew was a lie.
She added: “On repeated occasions and at length, the police suggested to the accused he should reconsider the advice of his solicitor to make no comment.
“Although the police also told the accused it was his right or choice not to answer, the admitted purpose behind these statements was for the accused to change his position and the way this was done constituted pressure.
“Within this statements were made to the accused about his solicitor and the legal advice given.
“This included the suggestion that the solicitor did not know what the evidence was, which was a suggestion the interviewer knew had no factual basis.
“Here there did not appear to be any other purpose for making these statements, other than to undermine the legal advice in the effort to get the accused to depart from it.
“DC Anderson did not provide a coherent explanation.
“It should be obvious to the police that to seek to undermine a solicitor’s advice to a suspect is wholly improper.”
The ruling was made at a pre-trial hearing in September ahead of Hawkins’ trial last week – with the ruling only now published following the conclusion of the case.
Prosecutors alleged that Hawkins assaulted the woman whilst she was under the influence of prescribed medication, whilst she was asleep and incapable of giving or withholding consent.
It was alleged that Hawkins handled her thighs, rubbed his private parts against her, removed her clothing before raping her at an address between August 11 and 12 last year.
Hawkins, of Barnton, Scrogiehill, Perth and Kinross, was found not guilty by a majority verdict.