LAW enforcement agencies have insisted it is vital for sex crime victims to come forward to keep dangerous people off the streets after a woman said she regretted attempting to seek justice.
The lady, who cannot be named for legal reasons, says she felt ‘let down’ by the system after her Hayling Island attacker, Raymond Hawker, walked free from court in March despite being proved guilty by a unanimous jury of historical charges relating to the 1980s and early 1990s.
Hawker, 77, of Castlemans Lane, was handed an absolute discharge after not being deemed mentally fit enough to face punishment after the jury found him guilty of five charges of indecent assault on a female under the age of 10 years and of inciting a girl under 14 years to commit an act of gross indecency.
And despite being given an interim sexual offender register notification while waiting for his sentence at Portsmouth Crown Court this was withdrawn following his absolute discharge. However, the victim said she was not told about this and only found out three months later.
The woman, now in her 30s, who bravely decided to step forward and pursue the case through the courts after locking away the dark secret to herself for more than 30 years, said: ‘My mental health has really suffered and my anxiety has been really bad with me having panic attacks. I couldn’t leave my apartment.
‘Just because he got an absolute discharge doesn’t mean he was innocent, it just means he avoided punishment because of his mental health. No one cares about my mental health, the things I’ve been through or relive on a daily basis, I’m just left on my own.
‘I’m very disappointed in the system, the lack of concern for victims and the lack of informing victims of changes or outcomes is absolutely disgusting. I was told he was on the sex offenders register so to find this out three months after the case is awful.’
DCI John McGonigle, who investigated the case, said: ‘We appreciate how difficult it can be for a victim of a sexual offence to come forward and make an allegation – it takes an incredible amount of bravery.
‘As a force we take allegations of this nature very seriously, and always strive to ensure that anyone who makes an allegation receives the appropriate support, from police and partners, that meets their needs throughout the investigative and court processes.
‘It is important to understand that the victim support and care responsibilities do not remain with the police beyond the court process. However, we will always advise and signpost a victim to the best service that can meet their needs longer term, and this is often arranged prior to the conclusion of court proceedings.’
A CPS spokesperson said they were ‘sorry’ for the victim but ‘communicated with her and her family throughout the proceedings’.
The spokesperson said: ‘At sentencing the judge felt that an absolute discharge was the only suitable disposal, in light of the medical reports which could not really recommend any form of hospital order or medical supervision.
‘As Raymond Hawker received an absolute discharge he could no longer be subject to a sexual offender register notification. We are sorry that the victim in this case feels let down, we have communicated with her and her family throughout the proceedings.
‘As soon as the issue arose the police and our prosecutor at court explained to the victim that the defendant’s fitness to plea had to be determined and discussed with her the possible outcomes that would follow if he was deemed unfit as they are set and limited by law.
‘The victim was spoken to once he had been deemed unfit so that she understood the nature of the hearing and what the very limited options available to the judge.’
An NSPCC spokesperson said: ‘It’s crucial that victims of abuse come forward and report what has happened so that they can get the help they may need and so that the abuser can be brought to justice. And when victims are courageous enough to disclose they must be listened to.’