Alexander Economou charged with harassment of David de Freitas

    Alexander Economou charged with harassment of David de Freitas

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    Photo from the Guardian

    Introduction

    We didn’t really cover the case of Eleanor de Freitas – a 23 year old woman who had accused Alexander Economou of raping her in 2013. After investigating the case (and it seems with the additional help of investigations undertaken by Mr Economou) it transpired that there were “text messages and CCTV footage that directly contradicted the account Miss de Freitas gave to the police“.

    In light of that, the prosecution of Mr Economou did not proceed. He was quite a wealthy man and so, instead of leaving it (the police were not interested at that stage in prosecuting Ms de Freitas) he spent £200,000 in starting a private prosecution of her for Perverting the Course of Justice.

    The prosecution was later taken over by the CPS (the usual procedure). Ms de Freitas was due to stand trial in April 2014, but tragically killed herself three days before her trial.

     

    Harassment

    On 9th December 2015 we learned that the CPS have decided to prosecute Mr Economou for harassment of Davd de Freitas, the father of Ms de Freitas who has been quite vocal of the perceived failings of the CPS in prosecuting someone who was obviously mentally vulnerable.

    The CPS have issued a press release confirming the basis of the charges:

    Between 5 November 2014 and 20 October 2015 Alexander Economou pursued a course of conduct which amounted to the harassment of David de Freitas and which he knew or ought to have known amounted to the harassment of David de Freitas in that he:

    • (a) delivered or caused to be delivered a letter dated 6 November 2014 to the home of David de Freitas;
    • (b) sent a series of emails to the solicitor acting for David de Freitas;
    • (c) uploaded various recordings and comments onto websites such as YouTube, vimeo.com and liveleaks.com, and
    • (d) set up and maintained a website with the domain name eleanordefreitas.com.

     

    Comment

    This is a very interesting case, and one that potentially has huge ramifications. At this stage, although the trial will be in the Magistrates’ Court (so no jury), it is inappropriate to comment too much, but we will certainly be keeping an eye on it.

    As for (a), we don’t know what the letter dated 6th November 2014 was. But we will be interested to see the full details of (b) and (c) and how they amount to harassment of Mr de Freitas.

    The website, (d), referred to is still running, although we do not know how much of it was taken down until after the trial. As it stands now, there does not appear to be anything legally objectionable on it (or else we would not have liked to it).

    The whole prosecution does (potentially) raise very interesting questions about freedom of speech and the rights of those that they state that they have been falsely accused to put their case – could well be one to watch.

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    Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

    9 COMMENTS

      • I think that’s a very different case, not least because it’s clear that the allegation against Mr Economou was an incorrect one (I don’t like the term ‘false allegation’ as it implies malice).

        It doesn’t mean that I agree with the way the CPS handled Ms de Freitas’s case, but I know we have differing views on public interest in prosecutions though.

        We know that mud sticks and it seems me that Mr Economou has every right to demonstrate his innocence. My view on free speech is in favour of having everything in the open as much as possible and letting the public decide.

        • How is it different you haven’t explained? Is one false accusation more serious than another. Going through a rape trial and watching the rapist walk free is easy is it?

          In the case above we’ll never know what happened because text msg(s) and CCTV do not prove innocence or guilt or tell us what happened behind closed doors.
          And if mud sticks similarly there is rarely any smoke without fire.

          Why would an ‘innocent man’ allegedly harass the bereaved father of a dead woman?

          • I don’t know much about the other case to be honest. With Mr Economou, it seems fairly clear that the allegation that was made was not correct.

            Some false accusations are more serious than others in my view.

            We’ll have to see whether he has harassed the father, and in what way (and why). I can understand that if someone has been wrongly accused then when they see the ‘no smoke without fire’, ‘I believe her’, etc etc comments they would want to show their innocence. Not many have his resources though.

            • And the suggestion that “mud sticks” perpetuates the myth that women who make a complaint of rape, whether or not it can be proved, are malicious and lying. It is because of this treatment of rape victims, rape culture, that I believe her exists.

      • I do not understand what she expected the Minister to do, L-E-S. Pacteau was prosecuted and acquitted. He could not be held, could he?

        • Men are complacent about the mountain that is rape because they are largely unaffected by it c/f with their interest in the anthill which is false allegations. We see how Jimmy Savile worked this to his advantage. When you have a system that is stacked in favour of the rapist and against the victim what happens is someone else, usually another woman is going to be raped and sometimes murdered too. Yet the outrage is on behalf of some man who may have had the inconvenience (maybe even trauma) of being questioned by the police. The minister could have ordered a review of the case, a retrial don’t they have that power? It was a majority verdict, two members of the jury weren’t morons.

          • I don’t know about Scotland, L-E-S; but in England a retrial after acquittal is an enormous mountain to climb; you are talking about an application to the Court of Appeal based on new evidence which was not available with due diligence at the time of the first trial. You will know that two of the men who attacked Stephen Lawrence are now doing time because of advances in DNA technology. (Not so the two brothers one of the whom was the actual knifeman – my guess is that they destroyed their clothes within a couple of hours of the mur

            Neither in England nor in Scotland can a defendant who has just been acquitted be kept in prison because the complainant, or the press, or a minority of the jury, or a Minister (especially a Minister) disagrees with the verdict; and that is as it should be. The Minister could not keep Pacteau locked up. And that’s nothing to do with it having been a man on a rape charge – the same would be true of a woman or a man acquitted of any offence including murder.

            • In fact it is similar in Scotland; an application to a higher court based on “compelling new evidence” which was not available at the time with proper diligence. Not simply the possibility that another jury might be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on the same evidence which did not satisfy the first jury.

              So far as I know the only man convicted on a re-trial after acquittal after being acquitted of rape was one stupid enough to boast about how he had got away with it and in so doing to reveal details which ahd not been made public.

              There was another case, committed before DNA evidence was possible, where DNA pointed out the offender as a man who had died in a road accident. I don’t know how the victim felt about that.

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