A VICTIM too scared to give evidence against his attacker has himself narrowly avoided jail.
Nathan Strong, 30, has been convicted of contempt of court for his refusal to appear at a trial at Oxford Crown Court and given a three-month prison sentence, suspended for one year.
Judge Ian Pringle was told Strong was kidnapped and attacked last year by a man who the Oxford Mail is banned from naming.
But when it came to the trial on May 14 this year, Strong – who lives in Kingfisher Drive in Witney– did not turn up at court and the case collapsed.
With Strong facing a charge of contempt of court last week for failing to attend the trial, his barrister Lucy Tapping said he feared his attacker or friends could kill him and target his family.
She said: “Mr Strong always acknowledged he should have been at court.
“But court could not hurt Mr Strong’s family or indeed kill Mr Strong and he feared (the accused man) and his friends could do that.”
She added: “It is absolutely apparent that Mr Strong was subjected to a hideous and terrifying ordeal.
“It appears to be genuinely terrifying.”
Strong had denied the charge of contempt of court, with Miss Tapper arguing it could not be proved he had received a witness summons from police on February 6.
Witney police officer Bethany Potter told Judge Ian Pringle she delivered the summons to a man she believed was Strong, based on photographs she had viewed 15 minutes earlier. But the man at the door denied he was Strong and gave a different name. The police officer could not recall if she had asked for the man’s identification.
Jonathan Stone, prosecuting, tiold Judge Pringle: “It is a straightforward matter.
“The police officer had the photograph, she looked at it very soon before going to the address and then again when she got back to the station and she was clear and Your Honour can be clear that Mr Strong received the summons.”
But Miss Tapper said: “We have an officer attending on the basis of a rather out-dated photograph – and who had only seen it briefly – at an address that was not Mr Strong’s permanent address and no evidence of identification.”
But Judge Pringle said he had been convinced Strong had been issued with the summons and found him guilty.
Sentencing him last Thursday, Judge Pringle said: “It is very important that when the criminal justice process works and tries to work with people like you that victims of criminal offences turn up and co-operate.
“I accept your personal circumstances at the time and accept you are deeply remorseful but I am going to have to give you a prison sentence, but I will suspend it for one year.”