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Eye-track tech allows victim give evidence to put away sexual abuser

Tracking his blinking was used to record the testimony of the victim, who suffered from Motor Neurone Disease.

Image: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens

A FORMER VICAR who abused a choir boy in the UK more than 35 years ago has been jailed for four years today, after his victim gave evidence using eye-tracking technology that turned his blinks into words.

At Bournemouth Crown Court today, 78-year-old Cyril Rowe was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault, which took place at a church in Tower Hamlets, East London, between 1979 and 1981.

The 47-year-old victim, who was only a child at the time the assaults took place, was now suffering from motor neurone disease.

His failing health meant that he could not speak or write.

Despite this, with the help of an intermediary and eye-tracking technology which monitored his blinking, the court heard descriptions from the victim on how Rowe would lock the church door, pin him down and sexually abuse him before apologising and giving him £1.

Reviewing lawyer David Nixon, for the Crown Prosecution Service in London, said: “The way Cyril Rowe’s victim was allowed to use this eye-tracking technology over video link shows how the CPS can help victims and witnesses who might otherwise struggle to give evidence in court.

This man was determined to seek justice against the vicar who had abused him all those years ago and these special measures enabled that to happen… As a result the jury were able to hear his powerful testimony which has ultimately led to the convictions and today’s sentence.

Sadly, the man who gave evidence died in a hospice before the verdict that his abuser had been found guilty was reached.

A statement from the CPS said that it had been his “dying wish” to give evidence before the court.

Read: Canadian judge resigns over ‘keep your knees together’ comment in sexual assault trial

Read: Blogger awarded £24k in damages after suing Katie Hopkins for defamation

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