Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Letter to Gregg Hands MP after Eleanor's suicide

Gregg Hands MP
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA

8th April 2014

Dear Gregg Hands,

Re: Eleanor De Frietas, false rape allegation.

I’m afraid I have some bad news. On Friday 4th April, Eleanor de Freitas took her own life. She was due to stand trial yesterday at Southwark Crown Court, for perverting the course of justice. This is truly is an awful thing to have happened and my heart goes out to the family who are innocent bystanders. Even though she did what she did, no one wished this upon her.

Yesterday morning there was a short hearing at Southwark Crown Court (which a paralegal attended to take notes) where her defence barrister told the judge that she had was found hanged by her mother on Friday afternoon at the family home, where she had left a note saying that she felt “trapped by the system”. The file was closed by the judge. There were no press present.

Whilst waiting to enter the court yesterday, the defence solicitor approached my paralegal (assuming it was a member of the public) and stated: This is an awful case in which there is a girl on trial who should not have been on trial and she has taken her life.

I thought I should tell you as soon as possible, as it is likely that this may come to press in the future and could be discussion point, with regards to false allegations of rape in general. In the meantime I will be taking proactive measures to keep this out of the press, as I do not want my name associated with this.

However, once things have blown over there are things that need to be addressed. In the last 16 months my lawyers spent 900+ man hours on this case. During that time we had multiple communications with the police and CPS and we learnt rather a lot. The CPS were very open with my lawyers and we worked with them for the last 5 months. I can tell you that it appears she had made false allegations against another man prior to the one she made against me and that the CPS were going to use that in the trial.

In my last letter I explained how the police were refusing to co-operate with the CPS and refusing to disclose information. (This was publicly stated at court on the 24th January 2014, by the CPS barrister). Were the police trying to hide information that showed the girl to have lied before? If so, why? Also, if they knew she had a history of false allegations then why did the police never interview the girl and ask her what she was doing in an Ann Summers shop buying sex toys, or ask her questions about the various messages she had sent stating that she really liked me – in the hours after the alleged attack. Despite all of this, it appears that the girl was never interviewed by the police as a suspect - ever.

In 2013 the CPS published a report on false allegations of rape. In the report they said that the DPP had studied all false rape allegations (brought to them by police) for 17 months. From my experience ( my lawyers working alongside them for the last 5 months) the CPS have been very thorough in this case and their decision making process has been very good. It seems they have a system set in place for dealing with these complicated matters and it works. Unfortunately you need rather a lot of evidence, but when it is there they take it seriously.

However when it comes to the police, and more specifically the metropolitan police it seems the opposite is true. They don’t know how to handle these matters. There is confusion as to what the law is. There seems to be no system in place. There seems to be a conflict of interest and a fear of prosecuting those who make false allegations.

If there is anything positive to come from this awful ordeal then it would be to try to persuade the Metropolitan Police to review how they handle these types of complaints, especially when there is evidence that the allegation was false. That would be my goal. Not right this second, but when things have calmed down. I have also written to Lord Campbell Savours telling him that I would be prepared to share the information related to this case with him, should that help his cause into finding a better way of handling these types of complaints.

Thank you for your help with this matter. It has been greatly appreciated. Hopefully something constructive can eventually come out of all this.

Your Sincerely,

Alexander Economou

Monday, 7 April 2014

The trial that never happened

The following is a note on what was meant to be first day of trial. The note was taken by one of my solicitors.








For: Mention, Court 10

Attendance: Prosecutor – Simon Spence QC (SSQC)

Defence – Mary Poku (MP)

Result: Indictment endorsed with the death of the defendant by suicide;

Case closed until further evidence to the contrary.

1. Arrived at 09.00. Hearing put back until 10.30

2.  I returned to wait outside of court 10, where MP and the representative of the defence solicitors were also waiting to enter court. Upon entering the court, I was asked quite abruptly by the defence representative who I was? I explained that I was a member of the public. We then entered the court.

3. Upon waiting in the public gallery the defence representative approached me and stated, ‘I apologise for being rude earlier, but this is an awful case in which there is a girl on trial who should not have been on trial and she has taken her life.’ I acknowledged this comment and the defence representative returned to the defence bench.

4. 10.31 – SSQC then opened the matter by explaining that tragically, on Friday, the defendant, Ms Eleanor de Freitas, had taken her life. SSQC, on behalf of the crown, offered his condolences to the family of Ms de Freitas.

5. SSQC directed HHJ Taylor to the appropriate page in Archbold dealing with how to certify a defendant’s death. He explained that usually you would require sworn evidence from a police officer who had identified the body, however that did not seem to be required anymore. SSQC explained that he had spoken to the coroner’s office this morning who confirmed that the police had attended the mortuary to confirm the body was that of Ms Eleanor de Freitas.

6. HHJ Taylor asked MP whether she had provided notification to the CPS. MP explained that she had and that she would like to add that PC Tayling and PC Tucker attended the family home, along with a consultant and paramedic, on Friday where Ms de Freitas was confirmed dead at 14.57. She was found by her mother hanging. Ms De Freitas had left a note, found by her mother, explaining that she had felt ‘trapped by the system’. Her mother called the police and the officers already stated had attended. These officers later attended the mortuary to confirm that the body was that of Ms de Freitas.

7. HHJ Taylor confirmed that there was continuity between the prosecution and defence to confirm that this evidence was reliable.

8. HHJ Taylor ordered that the Indictment be endorsed with ‘death by suicide’ and will have no legal effect until further evidence is adduced to the contrary. The file will be closed.

9. HHJ Taylor said that this was a tragic case for all concerned and offered the court’s condolences to the family.

10. 10.36 - Close

Friday, 4 April 2014

Eleanor kills herself.

It was Friday and I had just gone to Southwark Crown Court to have a look round in preparation for the Monday, that's when the trial was due to start.

I was very nervous. This trial was going to last a week and I was the main witness. Eleanor's legal team were gong to put me under very intense cross examination.

Whilst in the court I went to the exact court room where the trial was to take place, I met the usher and introduced myself. I stood in the witness box and imagined myself giving evidence whilst I stared across at the empty jury seats.

It was a fine spring day and so I walked back to my office along the River Thames. I went back to my office and tried to relax as much as I could. Finally, I was going to have my trial. Finally after 1 year and 4 months of waiting we are finally there.

It had been a long 16 months. From having been arrested to collecting the CCTV and text message evidence, getting witness statements and building up a case. The case had been approved by the courts, it had been approved by the CPS.

In one week Eleanor de Freitas would be found guilty and my name would be cleared once and for all. She would probably go to prison for 12 months and then we'd all get on with our lives.

At 434pm my lawyer sent me an email asking: "Is there any chance you could pop by and see me at half six? Would like to have a quick chat pre-Monday & would like to have it in person. Is that ok?"

At six o'clock I headed to see my lawyer. None else was there it was just me and her. She met me in the lobby and we headed up in this very small lift into her office.  I was telling her about my visit to the court and asking a few questions about the trial. I was excited that we had made it this far, we had spent 16 months working on this case and finally we were days away from trial.

She brought me into her little office and said "Alexander, I don't think you've been in here have you?" and she left the room briefly to bring a chair opposite her desk. 

She closed the door and said "Alexander I've got some news about the case I need to tell you about". Nothing could prepare me for what she was about to say.

And very slowly, she says the words: "Ellie has... killed herself".

I could not believe what I was hearing. It took several seconds for it to sink in, but even then I still could not believe it.

"Oh my god", I kept saying. "Oh my god, I can't believe it".

It's a very strange thing to have your nemesis die. For the last 16 months she had been the focus of my attention, in terms of building up the case. And now he was dead. This person that tried to destroy my life had now died.

There were all sorts of mixed emotions going on there. It felt truly weird to actually feel sorry for the person who tried to ruin my life by making false accusations against me, but I did. Of course I did.

I was in shock. It seemed all so tragic. Going on a date with someone and then all of this mess and then they commit suicide. It just seems so weird, so awful how this all ended.

All she needed to do was to say sorry and admit that she lied but it was too much for her. I think she knew that she would be going to prison and was afraid of that. But I was very sad, very shocked. Noone wanted her to die, I just wanted to clear my name and for her to learn her lesson. She would have spent no more than a year behind bars and that would have been it. Life back to normal.

Most of all I felt for her parents. They were innocent bystanders as far as I was concerned. I did not have any issues with them. All I could think about was her parents. She was their only child. I was thinking about them right now, I wonder what they are feeling, what they are doing?

Then my lawyer said to me. "Look, you don't know this and you weren't meant to find out until after trial but Elie had done this before, you were the second person she had falsely accused of rape. There was another guy she false accused before you".