Two years since sex attack on mum with dementia – but man who lied to court still evades justice
PUBLISHED: 09:12 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:34 17 January 2018
A family today tells how court delays and the manipulation of the justice system by a man accused of a sex offence has led to two years of distress.
Anthony Holloway, 53, was accused of raping a mother with dementia in 2015 at her home in Sprowston. But he has repeatedly delayed court proceedings and even lied about a family death to stop his trial.
At Norwich Crown Court yesterday, Judge Anthony Bate criticised his “manipulation” of the process, as another twist in the case led to further delays. Holloway entered a guilty plea in November last year to sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder impeding choice – an offence which can carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
He was originally charged with raping a 60-year-old woman in Sprowston in 2015 – something he denied.
After countless delays, the case was finally listed for trial at Norwich Crown Court in September last year.
But midway through his trial he told the court his uncle had died.
The courts believed him and stopped the trial, but it was a lie.
He was caught later that month and pleaded guilty in November to perverting the course of justice and to the sex offence.
But more than two years after he was arrested and charged for the crime, the victim’s family are still waiting for him to be sentenced. They have hit out at the endless delays to seeing justice for their mother.
“The distress caused to my family by the offence is compounded by the lack of closure,” they said. “We have prepared ourselves over and again, mentally and emotionally, for the distressing event of a trial... only to be told at the eleventh hour again and again that it will not go ahead.
“We have been misinformed on several occasions of the reasons for delays.”
In May 2017 a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) manager wrote to the family explaining why the case was taking so long to come to trial and admitted the delays were “unacceptably long”.
The family believed their two-year wait for justice was finally coming to an end in November when Holloway pleaded guilty to the two offences and they hoped to see him jailed.
But in December a hearing at Norwich Crown Court to sentence him was adjourned.
And yesterday, when he was meant to finally be jailed, there was another twist.
Holloway told his defence barristers he wished to change his plea back to not guilty, meaning the court would need to hold another hearing to decide whether or not to let him change his plea.
It meant the case was delayed again until February.
His barrister Jonathan Goodman told the court he was no longer able to represent Holloway, meaning the defendant no longer has a legal team, further delaying the case.
Judge Bate said he was “very concerned about this turn of events”. He described the claim that Holloway’s uncle had died during the trial as a “manipulation of the court process”. Judge Bate said he would put the case on a tight timetable and told the defendant he must write to the court by January 26 telling them who his new solicitors are.
Ian James, prosecuting, said the sex offence involved “grooming” and “planning”. He said the defendant had a “history of manipulating the court process”.
And Mr James added the victim’s family was “extremely disappointed” by the slow progress.
A trial for Holloway was first set for May 2016 but was delayed because there was a dispute about whether the victim could give evidence.
The defence challenged evidence from the prosecution’s experts about the victim’s mental condition.
They argued it was unfair that they would not be able to cross-examine the victim, again delaying the case.
In the meantime her mental health has deteriorated.
The family added: “The length of time that we have had to endure what feels like an endless wait for justice gives us the feeling that this is being treated like a victimless crime.
“Her (the victim’s) illness may have left her unable to comprehend what has happened, but an inability to understand should not detract from the seriousness of the crime, or the harm that it has done to her and continues to do.”