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Innocent Perth boy's jail nightmare

March 31, 2007 04:00pm

A 16-YEAR-OLD boy who was acquitted on Friday night of multiple rape was locked up for almost a year awaiting trial.

Patrick Waring, then a 15-year-old Catholic college student, was dragged out of bed by police a year ago and refused bail on nothing but the say-so of a lying 17-year-old girl who cried rape. Just before the trial started, the girl admitted lying about her sex life the whole time. She had insisted she was a virgin.

DNA tests excluded Patrick from her claims of rape.

She finally admitted she had had sex with a man at the back of a cinema the same afternoon, two hours before claiming Patrick raped her at Joondalup's Central Park after following her from the railway station on March 30 last year. She also admitted to having been in a sexual relationship with her boyfriend at the time.

Patrick was originally denied bail when a police officer told the Children's Court that Patrick had phoned the girl and threatened her – a fact the police later admitted was wrong. Patrick's father, Terry Waring, said his family had been torn apart for a year. His and his wife's belief in the justice system had been shattered.

"Shoddy work, cruelty and seeming vindictiveness cost us our house, financial security and a lifetime of savings for a three-week trial,'' he said.

"The emotional cost to the family has been incalculable. Personally, I have not cried as much since my brother was killed in Vietnam.''  The girl's new story included being raped by two different men in two hours. She said the cinema sex with a 20-year-old, who she had met on the internet, was rape, but she didn't want him charged because it might affect her compensation claim.

The girl had previously lied to interviewing officers, the Sexual Assault Resource Centre doctor who examined her and to prosecutor Amanda Forrester.

Director of Public Prosecutions Robert Cock dropped his opposition to bail and Patrick was allowed home on strict conditions on the eve of his trial, but Mr Cock pressed ahead with a three-week trial in the District Court.

Yesterday, while Patrick was enjoying his first day of complete freedom for exactly a year, his family was still suffering from the trauma.

"The accusations came out of left field,'' Mr Waring said. "We are a very close family and Patrick had never been involved in anything. "The biggest issue we had with him before was that he cycled to school without waiting for his mother to see him across a main road, and he was grounded for two weeks.''

The Warings had to re-mortgage their house in Beldon to pay for the trial and they moved to Canning Vale to be close to the Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre so they could visit Patrick daily.

Patrick's mother, Marie, resigned her nursing job at Joondalup Health Campus and his father took leave from the commonwealth public service to cope with the trauma.

"It's the finish of school for Patrick,'' Mr Waring said.

"He's lost virtually all of Year 11 and the start of Year 12 and he's had to grow up very fast. He lost his youth in there. "We didn't tell anyone at school what had happened to him. He just disappeared. And now we couldn't send him back there to face the ramifications of this.''

Patrick's 24-year-old brother, Michael, also lost a year of study for his degree in computer science and information systems because of the ordeal.

His 25-year-old sister Danielle has changed her plans to study civil law and is studying criminal law at Notre Dame University.

Patrick was charged while his shocked parents were still making their dash back to Perth from a Walpole holiday and before DNA results were obtained. It took PathWest seven months to provide the results.

It was only when defence counsel Tom Percy QC and Jonathan Davies consulted DNA expert Brian McDonald to interpret those results that another male's DNA, not Patrick's, was found in the girl's underwear and in her mouth. Only then did she admit her lies.

Mr Percy told the court that the case was dangerous and based on the lies of a complainant who was bizarre. In his closing address, he told the jury that the girl's evidence was riddled with inconsistencies, was most implausible and totally dishonest.

He said she had lied to people in positions of authority on the night and deliberately lied for a long time, her lies only discovered last month.

Ms Forrester told the jury in her opening address for the prosecution that the girl's account would be corroborated in each and every way by the independent evidence gathered by police.

But nothing to substantiate the girl's claims was found during a forensic check of the Joondalup park on the night and the SARC doctor found no evidence of sexual assault.

SARC's Dr Catherine Nixon, who told the court the girl was clear, composed and cogent on the night, agreed on cross-examination that abrasions on her back could have been caused by carpet burns.

PathWest biologist Janine Bennett said in cross-examination that the prosecution's claim of a two billion-to-one likelihood of DNA on Patrick's jeans being a mix of the girl's and Patrick's, was not valid if you allowed for the possibility of a third person being involved. Mr Percy said it was the only calculation PathWest did on the samples and it ignored the possibility of a third contributor found by Dr McDonald.

After a three-week trial before Judge Philip Eaton, the jury found Patrick not guilty of four counts of aggravated sexual penetration without consent, one count of deprivation of liberty and one count of aggravated indecent assault.

Mr Cock defended continuing with the trial, saying there had been some corroboration of the girl's story by other witnesses and the jury's 10-hour deliberation supported the view that there were serious issues to consider.

Patrick admitted in court that he had lied about not ever speaking to the girl. He acknowledged in late November that he had had some innocent, non-sexual social contact with the girl on March 30. He told the court that after seeing the girl at Joondalup train station and talking to her for a while at Central Park, he exchanged phone numbers with her and went home.

In court, police conceded they had not followed best practice in the case.

Various officers said that the Central Park scene was left unguarded from 1.25am on the night, it was a week before it was searched, and the same officers had visited the homes of the girl and the accused which allowed for contamination of evidence.

The male DNA found in the girl's underwear was not identified by PathWest as not belonging to Patrick because it was excluded under PathWest's reporting levels.

The trial in the District Court cost taxpayers about $90,000 and has left Mr Waring demanding answers to the failings in the justice system, citing flaws in the police investigation, delays in PathWest testing and its interpretation levels.

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