False accusations of rape. How common are they? This question runs through my mind whenever I read a story like this one, a particularly shocking case given the accused spent 17 weeks in Waikeria Prison prior to a trial at which the jury then found him 'not guilty' after 7 minutes deliberation.
Perhaps if the police kept statistics on the incidence of false rape complaints they might take a more cautious approach to investigating and prosecuting. But they don't.
They keep statistics on "False statement/Declaration Etc" but do not distinguish the nature of the false complaint. And they keep statistics on sexual offences.
I know I have blogged about this subject before but it keeps resurfacing. 1990s US data shows that 1 in 4 men suspected of rape can be excluded through DNA testing. That is not to say the other 3 were guilty. In 20 percent of cases the DNA evidence was inconclusive. A match was established in the remainder but then the matter of whether or not an assault or consensual sex took place has to be determined.
On a reading of just the media coverage, this man has suffered a gross miscarriage of justice. It doesn't do much for my faith in police procedures. Note his barrister's comment;
"What happens in these cases is everyone is risk-averse. No-one wants to exercise any discretion as to whether the case will proceed or not."