Man successfully sued for St Andrews rape is declared bankrupt

A man who was acquitted of rape but then successfully sued has been declared bankrupt, meaning he does not have to pay his victim any damages.

Stephen Coxen. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

A man who was acquitted of rape but then successfully sued has been declared bankrupt, meaning he does not have to pay his victim any damages.

Stephen Coxen was accused in a criminal trial of raping a woman in St Andrews, Fife, after a night out in September 2013.

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The 24-year-old, of Bury in Lancashire, denied the charges and in November 2015 a jury cleared him on a not-proven verdict in a criminal trial.

Scotland has three verdicts – guilty, not guilty and not proven. Not guilty and not proven have the same result, both being verdicts of acquittal.

After a civil case at the Personal Injury Court in the Edinburgh Sheriff Court building, Sheriff Robert Weir QC later ruled the woman had been raped.

Miss M, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was awarded £80,000 in damages in October. It has now emerged Coxen was declared bankrupt in February.

The woman told BBC Scotland: “I don’t think people should just think about this as terrible that he’s made himself bankrupt, because really, I’ve never wanted to go after him for money.

“The point of my whole process – my whole fight over the years is really just for a sheriff to say ‘you know he did rape you – this did happen’.”

The woman, a former St Andrews University student, said she was raped after a night out in the town by Mr Coxen, whom she had met earlier in the evening.

Mr Coxen had denied the charges, claiming the sex was consensual.

Speaking to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme, the woman said her main focus had been gaining justice in the case and not money.

She said: “Initially, the day I found out I was very shocked. I wasn’t surprised.

“I think a little part of me always thought he might do this. He was the man that raped me, he is the man I’ve spent five years fighting against and I think it’s just highlighting the type of person that he is.”

Civil cases require a lower standard of proof than criminal cases, with judgments made on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt.

In this case the sheriff in the civil court ruled Mr Coxen raped the woman despite the not proven verdict in the criminal court, and demanded he pay damages.