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Defendants in sexual abuse cases should be given anonymity
12:00pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
A SISTER is calling for anonymity for defendants facing allegations of sexual assault after her brother was falsely accused and later died.
Sarah Smith, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said she feels the trauma and stress her brother went through before he was found not guilty may have led to his early death aged 55.
The heartbroken relative said she felt it was time to speak out after seeing Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell cleared of similar allegations after months of press attention.
She added: “People don’t see the other side of the story and what families have to go through.
“I was just there when my brother called me but it was his wife who was there at night holding him when he was sobbing.
“When we first heard the allegations we laughed and told him it would all go away but then when he was charged he looked like an old man coming out of the cells.”
Her brother was accused of sexually assaulting a girl aged between five and seven-years-old in the early 1990s and Mrs Smith said when the charges appeared in the Warrington Guardian her brother’s personality changed.
She added: “I was working when one of the customers said ‘Look have you seen this in the paper’ and I had to tell him that’s my brother.
“When my brother saw it he said there was no smoke without fire and tried to take his own life.
“He used to be really bubbly but then people started saying things to him in the pub and it was awful what he had to endure.”
It took months for him to clear his name and his family grew frustrated as the case was adjourned four times before the trial finally took place at Chester Crown Court.
Mrs Smith added: “You kept building yourself up and then nothing would happen.
“We knew he hadn’t done it but on the first day of the trial I thought my brother was going to be sent down.
“Things started to unravel when the little girl said she would have to ask her mummy the answer to questions.
“He was unanimously found not guilty and I broke down into tears.
“But my brother was never the same after that.”
Complications around a bowel problem began to arise, which Mrs Smith believes were due to stress, and he eventually died five years later.
She added: “I don’t think defendants should be named until they are proven guilty.
“I appreciate it’s an area where people have to tread carefully and don’t want to put victims off coming forward but something needs to be done.
“I don’t want to upset people but I want them to know the other side of the story.”