26th July 1976
Guernsey court escapee was caught again
Derek Plevin escaped from a Guernsey court where he was facing rape charges, and spent 13 days on the run. He was recaptured when he started to suffer from stomach pains and, with little other option, called police to take him to hospital.
He was eventually found guilty of both rape and, because the complainant was his daughter, incest, by a majority decision of the Jurats that heard the case. The court sentenced him to serve six years in prison for the rape and six years of penal servitude for the incest to run concurrently.
He was also sentenced to six months imprisonment, to be served consecutively, after pleading guilty to escaping lawful custody of the Guernsey court.
By the end of the year he’d given notice that he intended to appeal against the rape and incest convictions. He planned to call 12 witnesses, of whom four had appeared at his original trial. His advocate also alleged misdirection in the original trial’s summing-up.
Plevin presented two written statements signed by his daughter. These made it clear that she and her father had never had intercourse. Despite this, she had given evidence at the original trial stating that they had.
The original report
PR Collas, representing Plevin in his appeal, then outlined the unusual nature in which the claim of rape had been made.
Police Sergeant Quertier had been sent to the daughter’s house. She lived there with her mother (Plevin’s wife, who wanted a divorce) and siblings, and Quertier had been asked to deal with an apparently serious incident. When he arrived, he found Plevin’s wife and sister-in-law waiting. It later became apparent that they hadn’t been in the house when the alleged offences had taken place. The summing up of the appeal suggested that “there must be considerable doubt as to whether [the sister-in-law] could have known what had taken place when she made allegations of rape”.
The written record of the appeal (PDF) concludes,
It is, of course, easy in the calm of one’s study to pick holes in the printed record of the hurley-burley of a trial, but in the light of the foregoing considerations we could not feel satisfied that these convictions (which in the circumstances of this case stand or fall together) could be supported, having regard to the evidence and to the criticisms of the direction given to the Jurats; and at the conclusion of the hearing of this Appeal on 20th December 1976 we indicated that these two Appeals should be allowed and that the convictions for rape and incest should be quashed. The Appellant would however continue to remain in custody for a little longer until he had completed his sentence for escape.