Man's rape conviction overturned
By CHRIS LYNCHchrisl@gladstoneobserver.com.au
SCOTT Anthony Rutherford is on a mission to clear his name, after he was sentenced to five years jail on a rape charge that was officially overturned yesterday.
Mr Rutherford said his nightmare began early last year when he was initially charged.
The 29-year-old woman complainant alleged three sexual assaults occurred between October and November 2003 at a Toolooa Street address.
'My lawyers were confident I wouldn't go to jail. Then when the verdict came back I couldn't believe it,' Mr Rutherford said.
'Then I spent six months in jail watching my back every second of the day hoping I didn't get bashed or raped.'
Mr Rutherford said one of those fears came true when he was sitting at a table one day minding his own business.
'This bloke just laid into me and busted my nose. There was nothing I could do because if you say anything you're (labelled) a dog, and things become worse,' he said.
Throughout the ordeal Mr Rutherford said he couldn't eat or sleep, and had lost a significant amount of weight.
Now he has to undergo counselling and take medication because of the stress he and his family were placed under. ' It's (Capricornia Correctional Facility at Etna Creek) not a place where you want to eat or sleep. Now I eat like a sparrow,'' Mr Rutherford said.
'I never used to have any of these problems and I probably will for a long time.'
Yesterday he said he wouldn't rest until the woman was charged for making the accusations.
During the trial, defence counsel Jack Farrell said no evidence other than testimony given by the woman and her boyfriend had been put forward.
Rutherford admitted having sex with her on two occasions, saying it was consensual, and largely due to her instigation.
One explanation Mr Farrell offered was that the complainant was seeing two men at one time, and the allegations stemmed from one of them discovering this.
He said Rutherford learnt of the existence of the first man, and whether she had wished to get rid of one of them would never be known.
He also asked why, when the incidents were said to have taken place over months, was a complaint not made until after the last encounter?
Gladstone police plain clothes Senior Constable Joseph Andrew Nixon testified there were no signs of a struggle such as bruising or similar marks on either Rutherford or the woman.
Yesterday the Department Of Public Prosecutions issued the following statement: "The prosecution case was significantly weakened by the jury verdicts of acquittal on two of the three charges of rape.
'Moreover the case depended on the complainant and she had disappeared. Despite extensive inquiries by both this office and the police, her whereabouts remain unknown.'
His convictions were set aside by the Court of Appeals in January, saying Judge O'Brien should have directed the jury on the use it could make of evidence about the woman's troubled mood after the third incident.
Mr Rutherford said his lawyers were considering launching a case for compensation, and that the justice system needed a drastic overhaul.