This is the first case in Scotland whereby a civil court has ruled that the defendant pay damages to the victim following a verdict of “not proven” in the criminal trial. The civil action was heard at the Personal Injury Court in Edinburgh.
Stephen Coxen, was 18 years old time at the time of the incident of rape against the victim. The victim was raped following a night out in St Andrews in 2013 by Coxen. She had been drinking alcohol throughout the evening and met Cox at the Lizard Lounge in town. Coxen is thought to have been removed from the premises at about 2 am.
The victim could not remember how she left the nightclub and ended up outside the gates of her flat. The victim describes how she felt panicked when she turned round to find Coxen standing next to her outside her flat. She is reported to have rung the buzzer in the hope that one of her flatmates would answer and began to search for her keys in her bag as she tried to play for time. When she dropped the keys Coxen picked them up and used the keys to enter the flat and proceeded to rape her.
Mr Coxen had denied the charges and said they had consensual sex. In November 2015 a jury found the case against him not proven. The victim did not accept the verdict of the jury and proceeded to start a civil claim against Coxen. Civil cases require a lower standard of proof than criminal cases, with judgements made on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt.
Sheriff Robert Weir said the evidence from the victim, who is now 23, had been “cogent, compelling and persuasive. He said that Mr Coxen took advantage of her when she was incapable of giving meaningful consent because of the effects of alcohol. She had been distressed and had resisted but Mr Coxen had continued to rape her.” He agreed that she should be paid £80,000 in damages.
The victim has said: “After being let down in the criminal process and having such a difficult fight to take the civil action to court in the first place I think shock is the word. It’s been a long journey to receive this justice and it is disappointing that it took a civil hearing following a criminal trial but I am obviously very relieved that now someone has listened and acknowledged that the actions of Stephen Coxen were wrong and unlawful.”
Last year, another woman, Denise Clair, won a civil case against footballers David Goodwillie and David Robertson. This civil case was different as it was brought after the Crown had decided against prosecuting the abusers in the criminal court. Following her civil case Clair was awarded £100,000 damages from the abusers.
Jordans can advise on the available options for pursuing a civil damages claim. We successfully represent and secure compensation for numerous victims of abuse and are experts in overcoming the particular challenges that arise in these sensitive cases. Our abuse team can be contacted on 0800 9555 094.