Rape trial suspended after People article

A rape trial which was was postponed after an article about the defendant appeared in a national Sunday newspaper the day before the case was due to begin, can be reported today after the proceedings were stayed for other reasons.

Peter Voisey was due to go on trial at Doncaster Crown Court on April 16 under his other name, Peter Smith.

Voisey, 35, of Blyth, Northumberland, was jailed last year after being convicted of snatching a little girl from her bath on Tyneside then sexually assaulting her and dumping her in a freezing lane.

He was facing trial on an unrelated rape charge when an article featuring him appeared in The People newspaper.

It alleged that Voisey was part of a paeodophile ring, which included other well-known offenders, in top security Wakefield prison.

The day after the article was published Voisey appeared at Doncaster Crown Court for first day of a trial on a rape charge – and was told the trial was not going ahead at that stage.

Robert Woodcock, prosecuting, said: “The People newspaper featured an article printed which included reference to and a photograph of this defendant, Mr Smith, though he is under another name.

“It is counsels` view, and I know your honour shares it, that the publication of that article at this time has such a prejudicial potential to the fairness of these proceedings continuing today and that the listing must therefore be vacated for that reason.”

Carl Gumsley, defending, said he agreed with Mr Woodcock. He later said his client had not been held at Wakefield prison.

Judge Jackie Davies agreed to the application and re-listed the trial for today.

But today, the judge stayed the proceedings after hearing arguments that Voisey could not get a fair trial for reasons unrelated to the article which had appeared in The People.

When he was jailed last year, Voisey, of Blyth, Northumberland, was told he must serve a minimum of 10 years in prison but warned that he might never be released.

He was later charged with a separate allegation that he had raped a 15-year-old girl in 1997.

Earlier this year, Mr Gumley had told Judge Davies that he would only be able to conduct Voisey’s defence properly if he asked the alleged victim, who is now in her 20s, why she had not come forward with her allegation for almost a decade.

This delay could not be explained without referring to the rape of the girl who was snatched from her bath – which would seriously prejudice Voisey`s case.

Judge Davies refused Mr Gumsley’s application to stop the case.

But today she changed her mind and stayed the proceedings after Mr Woodcock told her that he had carefully reviewed the case on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service following the defence’s arguments.

He told the judge: “I have no alternative but to invite Your Honour to stay the proceedings as an abuse of process for the reasons I have stated.”

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