Soaring numbers of murder trials delayed as courts struggle with Covid backlog

ROCKETING numbers of rape and murder trials are being delayed as courts fail to get a grip on the Covid backlog, alarming stats show.

A staggering 15 per cent of cases of sex assault against women and children were delayed in 2021 – up from just 8 per cent in 2018.

Rocketing numbers of rape and murder trials are being delayed as courts fail to get a grip on the Covid backlog, stats reveal

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Rocketing numbers of rape and murder trials are being delayed as courts fail to get a grip on the Covid backlog, stats revealCredit: Alamy

Even highly sensitive sex assault trials of monsters accused of attacking children under 13 have been hit by the backlog.

While 9 per cent of murder cases were delayed – up from just 2 per cent in 2018.

Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry blasted the outrageous stats.

And she warned delayed trials are more likely to collapse – meaning twisted criminals could get off scot free.

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She fumed: “Behind all of these statistics are hundreds of survivors of rape and sexual assault enduring further stress and trauma as their day in court is delayed, and families having to wait in agony for the monsters who preyed on their children to be convicted.

“And we know one thing for certain. The longer a trial is delayed – thanks to these late cancellations or the record court backlog – the more likely it is that cases will collapse entirely, the perpetrators of these crimes will walk free.

“And the individuals and communities who have suffered at their hands will not get the justice, protection and security they deserve.”

She said ministers cannot simply dismiss the alarming figures as “the impact of Covid” because backlogs were beginning to hit courts before the pandemic struck.

She urged No10 to urgently get a grip on the crisis.

Ministry of Justice figures show that 15 per cent of rape and sexual assault cases against women – 563 cases – were postponed in the year ending September 2021.

This was up from 8 per cent – or 476 cases – in 2018.

While 16 per cent of sexual assault trials against child victims – 101 trials – were postponed.

This rocketed from 7 per cent – 58 cases – in 2018.

And 9 per cent of murder trials – 39 cases – were delayed.

This has rocketed from 2 per cent – or just 9 trials – three years before.

The worrying numbers pile yet more pressure on ministers, who have been blasted over the failure to lock up rapists.

Last year, just 1.6 per cent of rape and sexual assault allegations made to the police led to someone being charged.

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This had sunk from 13 per cent in 2016.

Shame-faced ministers apologised for letting rape victims down.

Emily Thornberry warned delayed trials are more likely to collapse - meaning twisted criminals could get off scot free

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Emily Thornberry warned delayed trials are more likely to collapse – meaning twisted criminals could get off scot freeCredit: EPA

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