Barrister Cleared of Sexual Assault
A London barrister has recently been cleared of sexual assault, after a Judge decided he could not be sure the events unfolded in the way the alleged victim described, due to her alcohol consumption on the night in question.
Alleged Incident – Sexual Assault
Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court in North London heard how 36 year old Alex Di Francesco met and struck up a conversation with the 24 year old woman in Daly’s Wine Bar, Central London. When the bar closed, he took her back to his chambers.
Dilichi Onuzo, prosecuting, said:
‘They chatted for an hour until closing time. He told her he was a barrister, she did not believe him so went on Google to check. They had a conversation about whether he had a wig and gown.’
Di Francesco then allegedly tried to force himself on the 24 year old woman, telling her to ‘grow up’ and demanding to know why she wouldn’t sleep with him when she tried to push him away.
Miss Onuzo added:
‘She went to his chambers at 25 Bedford Row and he took her to his office to show her his wig and gown. She tried on the wig and gown and he took her upstairs to an office, where there was a large conference table.
‘He tried to kiss her, she moved away. She felt sleepy and lay down on the floor. He laid down and pulled down her tights and panties and reached for her. She pushed him away, pulled up her tights and pants and he then grabbed her bum really, really hard.
‘Mr Di Francesco asked her “Aren’t we going to have sex?” and she found him aggressive and confrontational.
‘She started crying and said she was having an anxiety attack, which he seemed to find funny and started laughing. She threw up and he was standing behind her.’
The young woman then called an Uber taxi and left. She did not report the incident to police until the following week, the woman told the court:
‘I blamed myself for the fact I hadn’t looked after myself and I had got drunk.
‘It wasn’t until I got more comfortable and I told my mum and my housemates and they said “no, what he did is wrong and alcohol didn’t have anything to do with it”.
‘It’s taken a very long time to even consider being close to someone again.’
Arrest & Defence
Di Francesco was then arrested and questioned by police. In court, the barrister said that the woman had refused to have sex but that she invited him back to her home multiple times to ‘spoon’.
Di Francesco insisted that the young women became angry when he refused to go home with her, telling the court:
‘I said “I can’t, I live in Harpenden”. She said “you won’t go home because I won’t have sex with you” – she said it in a way that got under my skin. I said “that’s not true, but to be perfectly frank, if that’s not what we’re going to do what’s the point?” It might not have been the most sensitive thing to say.
‘I’m in chambers lying on the floor, she wasn’t aggressive – she was just accusatory, and it wasn’t nice anymore and I thought “I’ve got to leave”.’
He added that she did not pull away from his kisses, saying:
‘There was no sharp end to the kiss, there was nothing that had made me think that I had overstepped the mark or I had done something that I shouldn’t have.’
Di Francesco denied sexual assault, insisting all the touching was consensual and that the woman had kissed him back. He claimed the woman had asked her to lie on the floor with him and ‘be the big spoon’.
The 36 year old was last week cleared of one count of sexual assault, after Deputy District Judge Mr Nicholas Wattan ruled that the complainant’s version of events could not be taken at face value due to the amount of alcohol she had consumed that night. The woman said she had shared champagne and wine with a friend, and consumed up to three double vodkas that night.
Judge Wattan, adding that Di Francesco’s ‘credible’ account ‘stood up well to cross examination’, told the court:
‘I’m concerned her recall of what happened is impaired by the amount of alcohol she had that evening. I can’t be sure the events unfolded in the way she described.’
Sexual abuse claims – expert advice
Hampson Hughes Solicitors specialises in directing sexual abuse claims in a considerate and compassionate manner. Our Abuse & Criminal Injuries Department is headed by Greg Neill – Greg is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL).
For an open and friendly conversation about your situation, and to find out how we can assist you relevant to your individual experience, call 0800 888 6 888 or email [email protected].
You will be given the direct-dial of your case handler, meaning that you will always be able to reach the person you need.
Source: Mail Online