Monday, January 14, 2008


A report on the Guardian website this morning explores proposal for the police to use text messages and telephone calls to try and get suspects to incriminate themselves in rape cases; a practice commonplace in many American states but seemingly untested here.

Actually, using a phone call to try and get a suspect to incriminate themselves is not unheard of and I can recall one case that spanned my time as a crime reporter and then later as a press officer for Thames Valley Police. Admittedly it was a bit more complicated than a he said, she said case.

Rhonda Kay vanished from her Craven Road home in Newbury in November 1992 and was initially treated as a missing person, although when it came to light her husband, Nick Kay, had been having an affair with the lodger, Karin Scott, it was feared she had been murdered.

Investigations drew a blank, however the case was later re-investigated and a plan hatched to trick Nick Kay into talking about his wife’s disappearance.

However it took Home Office approval before the police could first bug his house and then used a phone call from Rhonda’s sister – saying his missing wife’s body had been found – to lure him into talking about it after the call, which of course was caught on tape and led to a manslaughter conviction. You can read more about that case here.

Concerns rest over a suspect not being warned of their rights; yet surely no-one incriminates themselves for a rape they have not committed? More likely there would be questions over whether they had been the one on the telephone or replying by text message.

The Guardian does make the case that the tool would be used immediately after a rape was reported rather than a long time after the event.

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