Friday, 27 May 2016

Harassment Trial: Part 3

Yesterday was the first day of the trial. David de Freitas had taken the stand was playing the role of the quivering victim. He was saying how frightened he was, how scared he was of me and how scared he was of going to court.

And guess what I found online?

A video online of him posing for the cameras outside the court. Then there were pictures of him posing with his nieces. He wasn't afraid at all, in fact he loved the attention, the publicity. 

At 10 am we were back in court. Another witness would give evidence this morning for the prosecution and then it was my turn.

The witness that morning was Sebastian Gosden-Hood. In fact his full name is Sebastian Noel Cavendish Gosden-Hood. His father is John Gosden, a famous horse trainer. When Sebastian took the witness stand and gave his name it was ridiculous. It was like, who the hell is this guy? He had said not even started to give evidence and already came across as a pompous idiot.

Sebastian and I had been friends back in 2007. We used to play football together and we had had a falling out of some trivial matter a few years ago, but we never spoke again after that.

Here he was going to give evidence against me. He was best friends with Lizzie Noel, who is Eleanor's cousin. His loyalty was with Lizzie and the de Freitas family.

Sebastian Gosden is known to embellish, exaggerate and to lie (amongst my circle of friends).  But what he didn't know is that I had evidence to prove it.

Sebastian took the witness stand and started to give evidence. And then boom, ambush time! My lawyer Colin handed him a document which had various text messages on it. Text messages from two years ago.

Ever since I was accused of rape I have retained all text messages. No one keeps text messages for two years, but I did. Sebastian wasn't banking on that. He was telling the court about something I told him and about various messages that I'd sent him, yet I had the messages that showed the opposite. 

It threw him. He was all over the place. Stuttering away. 

After his evidence one of my friends who was watching from the public gallery asked me: "Sebastian Gosden-Hood, who is that guy, is he a heroin addict?"

I am not joking. He was like the comedy witness. His evidence was so far fetched and inconsistent it was like a joke. He was even referring to the judge as "dude".

After lunchtime it was to take the stand. My turn. I was nervous as hell. Last night I had only slept about 3 hours. I had been searching for this one document and it took me hours to find. 

In the morning I needed to get up early to go running. The run would calm my nerves for the entire day and help me think. It was better that I was tired but clear headed.

The whole case was really about me. The verdict rested on my shoulders. I needed to justify that what I did was " objectively reasonable" in the eyes of the law. 

Essentially I needed to show that:

1. I sent letters to David de Freitas and his lawyers in response to the press, which was wrongly asserting that I had raped his daughter. And that the letters were designed to deter further defamatory remarks and no more.

2. I had set up a website (which contained mainly CCTV and images of Eleanor as a prostitute)  to counter the false allegations that were all over the Internet and no more.

And that's what I explained to the court. First I gave my "evidence in chief", which is when you tell your side of the story, with my lawyer Colin asking, "what happened next" and I kept telling my story. I spoke of all the press, the death threat, and wanting to clear my name.

Next came cross examination. William Emlyn Jones was the prosecutor. And he was good. He was so good. It was scary.

Rule no. 1 is always tell the truth in court. If you lie you are dead meat, and it's also a very serious criminal offence.

Bill Emyln-Jones - aka "the shark" started his cross examination, but I was shooting him down on every point. I was innocent here and I was going to show him who was the victim. I had been the victim of a malicious press campaign, not de Freitas. 

Every question was a leading question which would often finish with the words "isn't it" or "isn't that right". Every now and then he would say "That's a pack of lies Mr Economou" or "I put it to to you that..."

It was brutal. I was in the witness box for an hour but it felt like three hours.

Then came a question that really threw me. This was the sharks "piece de resistance". I had previously explained I created the website for the world to see, so they could see Eleanor was a liar and that i was innocent.

Bill Emlyn-Jones: "Mr Economou, who else out of all the people in the world would be the the person most interested in this case?"

There was a silence and I sheepishly replied, "David de Freitas", there was no other answer. I thought  I was a gonner.

After an hour of cross examination the trial concluded with closing arguments and the judge said he would give his verdict on June 2nd, which was almost a week away.

David de Freitas poses for photographers outside court with his nieces.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Harassment Trial: Part 2

The prosecution finished their case and then my counsel Dave, who I had only met that morning, got up and started submissions on my behalf.

It went seriously badly but I couldn't do anything about it. I was stuck inside this glass box (the dock) and couldn't give any instructions to my lawyers from inside there. I just had to sit and listen to this car crash.

My counsel didn't know my case at all.

Colin, my other lawyer stepped in and requested a further 30 minutes to make some copies of papers that we needed to give the judge. He granted us 70 minutes and court was adjourned for lunch.

Action stations.

We all left the court room and I went into one of the briefing rooms with Colin. "Dave is fired!", I said "I don't want him anywhere near my case". I was furious about the situation.

Colin was very nervous. If Dave was fired that meant he would be running the case and cross examining Mr de Freitas and other witnesses.

I decided to keep Dave in a procedural role but Colin would be running the show from now. My civil solicitor Colin who usually conducts commercial litigation from behind a desk would now turn into a criminal barrister (trial counsel) in the space of 70 minutes.

The next 70 minutes were crucial, in that 70 minutes:

1) Colin had to prepare for cross examination of David de Freitas.

2) I had to copy 50 pages of documents, four times over.

But where would I find a photocopier? I ran around the court building in desperation carrying these two massive files, trying to find a photocopying machine.

I saw there was one in the lobby, no one was using it. I switched it on and started to copy. I was on my fifth copy when I got pounced on by six security guards "What are you doing!" they shouted.

It was chaos, time was ticking by and we seriously needed these documents. Another five minutes was wasted whilst i tried to explain to them my situation. They didn't care and pulled the plug out and told me I couldn't use the machine.



I was desperate. There was only 45 minutes left. I Googled photocopying shops and jumped into a taxi. 5 minutes later I arrived at the nicest photocopying shop I have ever been to on Marylebone Road.

As I entered the shop Classic Fm was playing in the background and all was calm. I was the only customer in the shop. Amazing. I told them what I needed and they set about creating four copies of everything. After 20 minutes we had four bundles of documents neatly bound  together. The bill came to around £100, that's how many documents there were, but this was worth it. I did not want a criminal record.

I raced back to the court building, went through the security checks, back through he X ray machine and up two floors to the court room. I gave the documents to Colin and took my place in the dock.

As soon as I put my foot in the dock the Judge walked in. We had made it by the skin of our teeth.

Colin had his documents and he had his questions. We were ready for cross examination.

Witness no. 1 was David de Freitas.

He was a lot shorter than I expected. Up to this day I had never seen him in the flesh. He took the witness stand and first of all the prosecution asked him some questions. Because he was a witness for the prosecution he was giving his "evidence in chief", as opposed to cross examination. With evidence in chief counsel will ask open ended questions, such as "and then what happened" or "did you notice anything unusual that day" they are not allowed to suggest anything. The evidence must come from you.

Evidence in chief is very different from cross examination, is when the other side ask you questions. Only the opposing side can cross examine and ask leading questions.

I had already read David de Freitas' witness statement, so I knew what he was going to say in curt. It was terribly over exaggerated.

His first complaint was that I had sent him a letter and he found it threatening. In fact the letter didn't threaten anything apart for "legal action. I sent the letter when the press started to come out. I did not need a lawyer to tell me the press was defamatory. Also there was no time. The press came out at 7pm and I was tipped off to a Radio broadcast that was happening at 8am, so no time to seek legal advice in any case.

The letter actually gave David de Freitas a list of the CPS evidence and told him that I was the victim of a serious crime and that should he twist the facts then I would make my own statement and take legal action.

There were also other messages I had sent, (because he would not stop his press campaign) and there was the website that I had created.

His complaint was that it caused him alarm and distress. He did not want contact from me, and he did not want to see photos of his daughter buying sex toys (the morning after the alleged rape).

It was so dramatised. De Freitas continued to give his evidence in chief and was crying at every opportunity. "My poor daughter... she's all I had."

Sure he was upset that his daughter had died, but that wasn't anything to do with me. All he had to do was to think of his daughter and he would burst into tears.

There were lots of tears and I was thinking "My god, I haven't got a chance. Who are you going to vouch for, me of the father of the dead girl". He was making me out to be some kind of demon.

In one instance he even had to leave the room, this was not good.

When his evidence in chief was over my lawyer Colin cross examined him. Colin was good, he stuck to the most important things. De Freitas was trying to be clever and avoided many questions instead he would answer back with these old fashioned catch phrases like "words don't but tears fail me" it was "too little too late", a sort of pompous talk.

Next witness was David de Freitas lawyer, Harriet Wistrich. She again was very short, much shorter than I expected.

Harriet Wistrich is an anti rape campaigner. She founded this group called WAR or Women Against Rape. This organisation is particularly unpleasant. They say that "all men are rapists" and are feminist extremists.

Again her evidence as exaggerated. All that had happened is I sent De Freitas and her warning letters and set up a website to counter the bad press. Nothing more. But they were framing it was "this man lost his daughter because of Economou, and then he bombarded him with messages and photos of his daughter buying sex toys, how could he do such a thing, he did it on purpose to upset Mr de Freitas".

The true context was that David de Freitas had accused me of rape in the press and I had told him to shut up, and exposed the truth which was that his daughter was a liar. 

Harassment Trial: Part 1

Total disaster.

Last night I found out that my counsel had overrun on another trial and couldn't represent me today, which meant we had to get someone else last minute.

Yup, so today I am going to be represented by someone who only just read the case papers last night. The problem is this is a very complex case. You need a week to get to grip on everything. This whole thing has been going on for 3 years and 6 months.

I am feeling generally quite nervous.

I stayed up late last night going through the papers and this morning I got up early to go for a 5 mile run.

It has helped calm the nerves, but still there are nerves.

I am also worried about the press taking a bad photo of me. When I came to court in January there were press all over the place, snapping away.  One hour later my photo of my outside court was all over the internet.

I put on my Sunday best and head over to court in a pre booked taxi. Everything was good. I was on time and in fact I was early.

I got out of the taxi round the corner from the court so that the press couldn't see me and then gently meandered towards to the double doors. I was relieved there was no press.

I was about to walk into the court building when I realised the doors are shut. I had arrived too early. Ten seconds later I was spotted by half a dozen photographers. Snap snap snap.

I felt like an idiot as all these photographers snapped away.

After five minutes the court doors opened and in I went. I went to a briefing room where I met my counsel for the first time. Yes you heard me right. I was on trial and I hadn't even met my own lawyer.

Thankfully I also had my defamation lawyer Colin there. He knows the case inside out but he:

a) Doesn't specialise in criminal law.
b) Has never acted as counsel at trial before.

My plan is to use Colin for everything apart from Dave, who knows less about the case but he knows how the criminal courts work. Colin my libel lawyer is very nervous, but I know he'll be fine.

In we go to the court and it is jam packed full of press. Literally every seat in the court room is taken. the press are even sitting on the benches where lawyers would normally sit.

I go and take my place in the dock, which in this court is a glass box. There is a speaker and I can hear the proceedings via the speaker.

The lawyers take their positions and the prosecuting lawyer opens the case. The prosecutor is a guy called Bill Emylyn Jones QC. He is 6 foot 5 with size 13 feet and quite lanky. Tall and slim with a big nose. He looks like a shark.

The shark is very clever, he is very intelligent.  The shark is no ordinary prosecutor he is what is called "Treasury Counsel". That means he was hand picked by the Attorney General to prosecute the most serious cases at the Central Criminal courts in London.

The shark is usually prosecuting murderers and terrorists at the Old Bailey. He hasn't been in a magistrates court for years. Even though the charge of harassment against me is relatively minor in comparison, the case has a lot of history. It is actually quite complicated and that's why they have employed him, someone with a good memory who can quickly explain things to the judge.

The good news is that the more experienced the prosecutor the fairer they are. That applies here in the UK, although probably not in the USA. When you have trial lawyers starting off in their careers they try to win every criminal case, they need to prove themselves. Once they have some experience they realise it's actually about justice. They realise they are there to present the facts and allow the court to decide.

Obviously the shark is going to lay into me and accuse me of harassing Mr de Freitas but the shark is reasonable. As he gives his opening speech he explains that David de Freitas accused me of rape in the press. Quite honestly the opening speech could have been a lot worse.

Some parts of his opening I just want to burst out laughing though. Part of the prosecution case is that I've made a website (like this one) that has images of the sex toys that Eleanor and I bought together and that it caused enormous distress to David de Freitas to see those images of his daughter buying sex toys.

The whole thing is crazy because obviously all I was trying to do was to show his daughter was lying. I only did it after he went to the press and after my name was trashed on Google. Anyone wrongly accused  of rape would upload  material to show they were innocent - if it was available.

The shark went though the names of the sex toys. I couldn't believe it. He then went on about the CCTV I had uploaded and the various sections of the website, including 'homepage', 'CCTV', 'police refusing to investigate'.

He said the website published "completely gratuitous" references to the purchases of sex toys, including "three jars: nipple rub, pussy rub and cock rub" and "anal glide lube".

When he started going through the list of jars I almost laughed out loud. I had to bite my lip so hard.

He said that I had posted screen shots on the website of Miss de Freitas appearing on a website called Tantric Temple, in which she is listed as a "high-class escort" called Goddess Portia.

Quite honestly that opening by Mr William Emlyn-Jones QC was the best advertising ever for my website which was still up and running during the trial.  That website was similar to this blog, in that it showed the evidence against Eleanor de Freitas and showed her to be a liar.

It received so many website hits that day.

The press were writing everything down and I was delighted. I wanted this detail to be out out there. So far the press had kept quiet about the evidence but now they had no choice.

All I ever anted was the truth to get out there and it was. The evidence on my website was going to be in every paper by lunchtime.

I arrived too early and had to wait for the court to open.

This was the website I was being prosecuted for. 

The prosecutor went through the names of the jars.

Some of the purchases from Ann Summers.