Lismore Juries Hard to Sway on Sex Crimes; Only 44pc of Cases Result in Convictions

Article excerpt

Byline: JACK CAMPBELL Correspondent

JURIES that sit in the Lismore District Court are unlikely to convict accused sex offenders, according to the latest state crime figures obtained by The Northern Star.

District Court juries in Lismore found all sexual offenders not guilty in 2009 trials.

Fewer than half of the 77 sex charges before the courts led to convictions, and all of these involved the accused pleading guilty.

These are just a fraction of the many sexual offences that go unreported each year or that police decide not to prosecute for lack of admissible evidence.

The Northern Star commissioned the figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

They revealed just 33 sexual assault charges resulted in convictions in 2009 a and all the defendants pleaded guilty so juries were not involved.

The low conviction rate reflects the national average. A study by the Australian Institute of Criminology revealed only 44 per cent of 141 cases between 2004 and 2005 ended in convictions.

Bond University criminologist Paul Wilson said aggressive cross examinations of victims and a lack of admissible evidence often led to lower conviction rates in sexual assault cases. …