Northampton bedsit rape trial is chance to talk about consent to our men and boys, says charity

"Even if someone does not say no, it does not mean they are saying yes"

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 7:20 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 9:10 am
A trial concluded last week over the rape of a woman at a Northampton bedsit.
A trial concluded last week over the rape of a woman at a Northampton bedsit.

A sexual assault survivor support charity says a harrowing court case about a rape in Northampton should be confronted and used to talk about consent.

Last week, a jury heard the deeply upsetting evidence over how a young woman was raped at a Northampton bedsit.

Despite repeatedly telling him she wanted to go home, Dennis McGowan, of Mounts Court, convinced himself his victim was "up for it" and had sex with her against her consent.'Pathetic' Northampton rapist who convinced himself victim was 'up for it' convicted by unanimous juryWhen he took the dock to give evidence, the 37-year-old even scoffed and told the jury she was "loving it" - despite the evidence including a one-hour recording of the incident where she pleaded with him to let her leave as he badgered and harassed her to have sex with him.

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Now, support charity Northamptonshire Rape Crisis says the public should not look away from the facts of the case and use it to talk about the issue of consent.

"We have to be really quite clear that women and girls face sexual language, harassment and violence on a day to day basis and learning about consent is a way to drive conversation," said chief executive Dawn Thomas.

"It's always about consent. It's about recognising that consent can be given and can be taken away.

"Even if someone does not say no, it does not mean they are saying yes."

During the trial, McGowan's defence barrister Mr Daniel Green tried to explain the damning evidence of the recording by saying the victim 'consented in her actions' and if the jury "listened closely" they would see she was actively participating with McGowan.

McGowan himself also asserted that she "kissed him back" and "was up for it".

But the jury rejected all of this in less than three hours of deliberating.

Dawn said: "Sex is supposed to be enjoyable for both partners and not just one. Most men I would like to think would expect their partner to be enjoying it and not frozen into silence.

"We victim blame without even realising it. Whatever reason the victim had to be there it was not to be raped," she said.

The case raised important issues, Dawn said.

"I think we need to talk to our men and boys and consent at all times. We can teach our boys about consent even just when they take someone's property or kidding their partners - did they have consent to do that?

"Young men need to understand that if they go out on the town and have sex with someone and they didn't get their consent, they can be charged for that."

Northamptonshire Rape Crisis is a sexual assault suvivors' support charity. It offers emotional support, counselling and advice on reporting crimes to the police.