Victims’ rights campaigners highlight case of victim told ‘not to cry’ in court

Victims’ rights campaigners have highlighted the ordeal of a child sex abuse survivor instructed not to cry in court, the Irish Examiner reports.

Maria McDonald BL, co-founder of the Victims’ Rights Alliance, told the Irish Observatory on Violence against Women on Friday that the cross-examination in the case was “brutal”.

Ms McDonald said: “I’ve been involved in cross-examinations and I’ve never seen it in that context. The judge turns around and says: ‘Don’t cry. Don’t show any emotion, the jury are going to be affected by it’.

“Can you imagine going through your whole life, having to make statements, and then being told you’re not allowed to cry in court, not allowed to get upset, because you’re influencing the jury?”

The observatory, hosted by the National Women’s Council of Ireland, also heard from barrister Rebecca Coen from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Ms Coen said there were lessons from Scotland in making trials speedier to protect the rights of victims, particularly of domestic abuse.

She said: “If we were to transplant a measure from our neighbouring jurisdictions I would look to Scotland where the speed of disposal is a hallmark and the specialist domestic abuse courts operate with the aim that there will be an eight to 10-week period from alleged offence to hearing. Reducing court waiting times would deliver a substantial improvement in the victims’ experience of the criminal process and would, in my view, truly make a difference.”