Lawyer who called 13-year-old victim of Romford paedophile “predatory” resigns from rape panel

Judge Nigel Peters. Picture: Photoshot

Judge Nigel Peters. Picture: Photoshot - Credit: Archant

A Crown Prosecution Service lawyer who described the 13-year-old victim of a Romford paedophile “predatory” in court will no longer undertake prosecutions involving serious sexual offences or child sexual abuse.

Robert Colover has agreed to resign from the CPS Rape Panel of advocates, admitting his description of the girl as “predatory” and “sexually experienced” was inappropriate, the CPS said today.

Mr Colover’s comments during the sentencing of paedophile Neil Wilson, who was handed a suspended sentence, sparked outrage and the CPS said after a review of the case, director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC had found the language used to describe the teenager was “grossly inappropriate”.

A spokesman said: “Counsel in the case agreed that he should not have used the expression that he did and deeply regretted his choice of words.

“It was agreed that he would resign from the CPS Rape Panel of advocates and will no longer undertake prosecutions involving serious sexual offences or child sexual abuse.”

Wilson, 41, was handed a 12-month jail sentence suspended for two years after he admitted engaging in sexual activity with the teenager, as well as offences of making indecent images of a child and offences of possession of an extreme pornographic image.

The sentence has been referred by Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC to the Court of Appeal, where three judges will decide whether or not it is unduly lenient and whether they should increase it.

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Mr Starmer carried out a review into the case to address the comments made at Snaresbrook Crown Court by Mr Colover on August 5.

In addition to Mr Colover’s comments, complaints about Judge Nigel Peters QC’s sentencing, during which he remarked that he was taking into account how the girl looked and behaved, are being “considered” by the Office for Judicial Complaints.

A petition set up on website in the wake of the case also attracted more than 50,000 supporters.

A sexual abuse survivor, known only as Jo, who set up the case, said: “It’s good news that Colover won’t be asked to undertake these kinds of prosecutions any longer.

“It sends a clear message that these kind of comments are completely inappropriate. The CPS must implement mandatory specialist training in all sexual offences cases to ensure a culture shift in the legal profession; this will ensure that it protects vulnerable witnesses.”