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Innocent Until Proven Guilty
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Innocent Until Proven Guilty 


Performance, 29 minutes 


Defence: Thank you your honour, Miss Coombs, is it correct that you were at Reading Festival on the August bank holiday weekend in 2014? 


Victim: Yes. 


Defence: And that this was the first music festival you had ever attended? 


Victim: Yes. 


Defence: And you attended this festival during the summer between finishing school and starting your law degree at the University of Cambridge? 


Victim: Yes. 


Defence: So, would you agree with me then, that this festival was a cause for celebration? That this was a chance to let your hair down? 


Victim: Yes, I’d say so. 


Defence: And is it correct that Friday 22 August 2014 was the first night you spent at the festival? 


Victim: Yes, that’s correct. 


Defence: How much alcohol did you consume that night? 


Victim: Erm, quite a lot. 


Defence: What time did you start drinking alcohol? 


Victim: I’m not sure of the exact time. It was sometime in the afternoon, I guess. 


Defence: Were you playing drinking games? 


Victim: Yes, we were playing ring of fire at the campsite before we went to the main arena where the stages were. 


Defence: Who was it that got the last King in the game? 


Victim: That was me. 


Defence: And what did that mean, as per the rules of the game? 


Victim: It meant I had to drink what’s called ‘the Kings cup’, which is essentially a cup in the middle of the circle of cards. Everyone that pulled out a King before me had to pour their drink into that cup, and the person who chooses the last King, drinks it. 


Defence: Did you continue drinking when you were at the main stage? 


Victim: Yes, I think so. 


Defence: Did you take any other substances that night? 


Victim: Yes, I took MDMA. 


Defence: And what time did you take that? 


Victim: I’m not sure exactly, but it was before we went to the main stage. 


Defence: Had you taken this drug before? 


Victim: No this was the first time I’d taken the drug.  


Defence: When did you start feeling the effects of the drug? 


Victim: I don’t really remember much after I’d taken it, but I think it was at the main stage.  


Defence: How did it make you feel? 


Victim: Erm, as I said I don’t really recall that much after I’d taken it, it’s all a bit of a blur. I remember snippets of dancing. Feeling very happy. Quite affectionate, I guess. 


Defence: Were you in a relationship at the time, Miss. Coombs? 


Victim: No, me and my boyfriend of 3 years had broken up just before the festival. 


Defence: Is it correct that you said to your friend, as she has stated in her written evidence, that you were ‘on the pull’ that weekend? 


Victim: Erm, I think we joked about something along those lines. 


Defence: And where did you meet the defendant? 


Victim: We met at the main stage, on the first night. I was dancing with my group of friends, and he was dancing next to us with his group of friends.     


Defence: Did you like the defendant when you met him? 


Victim: Erm, at the time yes, I guess I did.  


Defence: Did you flirt with the defendant? 


Victim: Maybe a bit. I’m not sure really, my memory is a bit blurry. 


Defence: Did you dance with the defendant? 


Victim: Yes, I think we danced. 


Defence: Did you kiss the defendant? 


Victim: Yes, we kissed, I think.  


Defence: Did you have a lot of physical contact with the defendant? 


Victim: I don’t really remember. 


Defence: Did you suggest to the defendant that you both leave the main stage? 


Victim: No. Well, I don’t know. I remember that at one point we both left the main stage, but I don’t remember who suggested we leave.   


Defence: How did your friends react when you left the main stage? 


Victim: I just remember them telling me to have fun. 


Defence: Did any of your friends show any concern that you were leaving with the defendant? 


Victim: Not that I can recall, but everyone was drunk or high, or both.  


Defence: So, none of your friends tried to stop you leaving? 


Victim: I don’t think so, no.  


Defence: What were you wearing that night, Miss Coombs? 


Victim: I don’t remember exactly, probably a pair of shorts and a top or something.  


Defence: And what was the weather like that day? 


Victim: It was warm. Sunny, I think. It was late summer, so. 


Defence: And later in the evening, after it got dark? 


Victim: It did get colder in the evening.  


Defence: Did you bring a jacket with you? 


Victim: No, I don’t think I would have. I wouldn’t have wanted to carry it while I was dancing. 


Defence: Did you suggest to the defendant that you could both go back to his tent? 


Victim: No. 


Defence: Are you saying that you can’t remember if that happened or not, or did it happen? 


Victim: I don’t think that happened, but I was, I don’t remember anything that happened, as I stated in my written evidence. I don’t remember anything between leaving the main stage and waking up in his tent with him on top of me when I pushed him off me and tried to run out of the tent. 


Defence: Do you remember asking the defendant to go back to his tent, because you were cold? 


Victim: No, I don’t remember that. I don’t think I would have said that. I would have just gone back to my tent if I were cold.  


Defence: Miss Coombs, you say that at that point in the evening, after leaving the main stage, you don’t remember what happened. That you were under the influence of MDMA and alcohol, which you had been consuming since the afternoon. Is that correct? 


Victim: Yes, that’s correct. 


Defence: And how many tents would you estimate were at this festival? 


Victim: I don’t know how I could possibly answer that? 


Defence: Just hazard a guess Miss Coombs. 10? 20? 100? 10,000? 


Victim: Er, thousands, I guess. Tens of thousands.  


Defence: Do you think you would have managed to find your tent, among those thousands, in your MDMA and alcohol induced state? 


Victim: I don’t know, probably. I mean I managed to find my tent after I woke up in his tent in a panic and pushed him off me. I ran from wherever his tent was to my own campsite. I ran and I ran; I even remember tripping over all the tent pegs on the way, but I eventually found it. 


Defence: Whose tent did you wake up in the next morning, Miss. Coombs? 


Victim: My friend’s tent. I mistakenly got into my friend’s tent after I ran back because it was dark and, erm, that’s why I kept tripping up on all the tent pegs. 


Defence: How long do you estimate you were in the defendant’s tent that night Miss Coombs? 


Victim: I, I don’t remember. I don’t remember going to his tent. I only remember waking up in his tent and panicking when he was lying on top of me, and my shorts and underwear were around my ankles.  


Victim’s voice breaks. She composes herself. 


Sorry. The music was still playing when we left the main stage. So, we must have left the main stage before, erm, 11pm. I don’t know if we went straight back to his tent or not. And it was still dark when I got back to my campsite, so, that must have been before 4 or 5 am. 


Defence: So, 6 hours or so. Perhaps a sufficient amount of time to sober up enough to find your tent? 


Victim: Erm, I don’t know.  


Defence: Miss Coombs, you say you ran back to your campsite.  


Victim: Yes, that’s correct. 


Defence: That you left the defendant’s tent in a rush. 


Victim: Yes, I woke up and I, I told him to get off me and, and I pushed him off. And I remember the zip on the door was stuck, and I was frantically trying to undo it and then, then I just ran. I ran away.  


Defence: Did you have time to put your shoes on? 


Victim: Erm, I didn’t, I don’t remember putting my shoes on.   


Defence: Did you run back with bare feet? 


Victim: No, no. I, I guess I must have had them on already. 


Defence: Do you remember the defendant asking you to remove your shoes when you had arrived at the tent, hours earlier that night, and you subsequently removing them? So that you could go straight to sleep, along with the defendant? 


Victim: No, no, I don’t remember that at all. 


Defence: Did you have time to pull up your underwear and your shorts when you left the defendant’s tent? 


Victim: Erm, I mean I must have had to pull them up, because I wouldn’t have been able to run otherwise. But erm, I remember they were still unbuttoned, because I had to use the bathroom really urgently when I was running back and, and I looked down and they were still undone still.  


Defence: Did you use the bathroom? 


Victim: I couldn’t find one, so I just squatted down next to a tent and went. And then I got up and carried on running.  


Defence: Do you remember removing your shorts, and your underwear in the tent? 


Victim: No, I don’t remember that. 


Defence: If I suggest to you that you had tried to use the bathroom earlier in the night while the defendant was asleep, that you had put on your shoes and removed your underwear and shorts, but were still too intoxicated to navigate your way out of the tent, and subsequently fell back asleep, what would you say to that? 


Victim: I would say that is not true. 


Defence: That you left the defendant’s tent in a rush when you awoke for the second time, because you were in an ‘urgent need to use the bathroom’, and had sobered up sufficiently enough to leave the tent at that point? 


Victim: No, I left in a rush because I woke up with him on top of me and I was in a panic, and I wanted to get out and away from him as quickly as I could. I didn’t know what was happening to me. 


Defence: Can you describe the way the defendant was laying on top of you when you awoke, Miss. Coombs? 


Victim: I don’t remember exactly, it all happened so quickly. I just remember feeling the weight of him on top of me.   


Defence: What was the defendant wearing? 


Victim: er, I don’t know, I don’t remember.  


Defence: Where were the defendant’s hands? 


Victim: I don’t remember, I, I don’t even remember where my hands were. This all happened so long ago.  


Defence: Did the defendant resist your attempt to, as you say, push him off of you? Did he try to stop you from leaving the tent? 


Victim: No, no I don’t think so.  


Defence: Because the defendant was in shock at your sudden outburst, which had just awoken him?   


Victim: No, I –  


Defence: And before that you were both merely asleep, cuddling, to keep each other warm.  


Victim: That is a lie. He, he could have covered me with a sleeping bag or put another jumper on me to keep me warm.  


Defence: Were there any other sleeping bags in the tent, Miss Coombs, or just the defendant’s sleeping bag? 


Victim: I don’t remember.  


Defence: Did you run back to your tent later that night because it was cold, and you didn’t have a jumper? 


Victim: No, I was running away from him. 


Defence: Because the effects of the MDMA, which you said had made you feel “affectionate”, had finally worn off? 


Victim: No, No– 


Defence: Miss Coombs, in your evidence, you’re asked by the officer who’s asking you questions to account for what the defendant said when you awoke in his tent, and you say, “I don’t remember, it’s all a blur”. 

Victim: Well— 

Defence: Is that because your version of events didn’t happen? 

Victim: No, and I didn’t, I don’t remember how I woke up this morning, what I said this morning, let alone on that night almost 10 years ago. I mean, God, do you really think I would have put myself through this tortuous process if my version of events didn’t happen? That I would willingly relive this trauma, all these years later, and let you turn me inside out in front of a room full of strangers? 


Defence: This is not relevant to my question, Miss Coombs, please refrain from elaboration.  


Victim: It’s just not fair. Do you know how degrading this is? How difficult it is for me to stand here and expose such a corrosive wound? I have lost everything because of this.  


Defence: Miss Coombs. 


Victim: I have lost my sense of self. My dignity. The sense of joy in my sexuality. All my relationships have failed. What could I possibly have to gain from lying to you? 


Defence: Would Your honour please remind the witness to answer the question and not make speeches.  


Victim: How can you call this justice?  


Victim places her face in her palms. The courtroom falls silent. 


Defence: I understand it was a difficult and confusing night for you Miss Coombs. Would you like a minute to compose yourself? 


Victim: No, No I can do this.  


Defence: As you wish. Did you, the following day, tell your friends you were raped or sexually assaulted? 


Victim: No. I hadn’t fully understood the gravity of what had just happened to me. 


Defence: What did you say to your friends the next day, when they asked you what happened with the defendant the night previously? 


Victim: I just told them we went back to his tent, but that I didn’t remember what happened. I didn’t tell them how much pain I was in, internally, I mean. I was embarrassed.  


Defence: Embarrassed that you had gone back to the defendant’s tent just a few hours after meeting him as a result of the effects of the MDMA you had ingested? 


Victim: No, I just, I was so confused. I was in shock. I didn’t know what had happened to me. I didn’t want to ruin the festival for everyone on the first day.  


Defence:  Miss Coombs, why didn’t you go to seek medical assistance at the Welfare tent, if you really were in pain? 


Victim: I don’t know, I just didn’t want to alarm anyone. I didn’t want to acknowledge what had just happened. I wanted to block it out. I did for years.  


Defence: Were you embarrassed that this pain was in fact self-inflicted, as a result of falling over the tent pegs on the journey back to your tent that? 


Victim: No, I just, that pain wasn’t from falling over, it was him, I just, I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s fun. 


Defence: Your Honour, those are my questions. Thank you. 

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