Readers of Hoaxtead Research will be aware by now that court was adjourned at about 4:00 p.m. this afternoon, to resume tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. You would be correct in deducing that the jury has not yet reached its verdict.
Here is a summary of the day’s proceedings:
Summation: Judge Martin Griffith
In court this morning, Judge Martin Griffith summed up for the jury the process by which they were expected to reach their decision in the trial of Rupert Quaintance. When they considered the case, he said, they ought to consider all the evidence brought by both sides, and the testimony of all witnesses, as well as the admissions agreed to by both sides. They should make an assessment of all the witnesses, including the defendant, who they should treat as a witness like any other during the time he was on the stand.
The jury would be entitled to draw inferences from the evidence, Judge Griffith said, but not to speculate.
“You heard two speeches on Thursday”, he said, “but you are not bound to accept either of them”. To refresh the jury’s memory, he summarised the defence and prosecution speeches. He pointed out that in any criminal case it is the prosecution’s job to make the jury certain of the accused person’s guilt; it is not the defence barrister’s job to prove the defendant innocent.
Judge Griffith emphasised the need to remain calm regarding the background subject matter in this trial: issues such as child sexual abuse and Satanism elicit strong feelings which must not be allowed to affect the jury’s decision in one direction or the other. It’s important to remember that the allegations made against the parents in this case were without substance.
Cases such as the Hampstead SRA hoax are bound to attract the attention of conspiracy theorists, Judge Griffith said. The defendant became involved when he saw certain inflammatory videos on the internet. He made his own video in 2015, in which he said he would go to Hampstead, kick down doors, take blood samples, and solve this thing once and for all. Nothing happened for a year, but in 2016 Rupert’s video was reposted, and all the witnesses saw it. They felt concern for their own safety at that time.
A GoFundMe page was set up, and Rupert added the comment, “I’m going to the UK to fight paedophiles”, urging people to share the link. Sabine sent Rupert a link containing a list of parents, in which the witnesses’ names were included.
Rupert broadcast his American Freedom Radio programme from Holland, stating that he was not going to kill anyone, just beat them up; he added that those he planned to beat up had laid hands on others, so he felt entitled to lay hands on them. In the summer of 2016, he came to the UK, photographed himself in front of Christ Church Primary School, posted the picture on Facebook, and had a discussion with a friend in the comments under that post intimating that he could have been armed. He claims that the conversation was in fact a shared in-joke about being hit in the back of the head with a ham sandwich.
These three events—the initial video, the American Freedom Radio broadcast, and the Facebook photo—known as A, B, and C—are not in question. Rupert accepts responsibility for each of them. The question is, was his course of conduct calculated to cause alarm or distress to anyone? Apart from one witness, Rupert claims that he didn’t know any of the names of the witnesses in the lists found on his computer and hard drive. However, all of the witnesses say they saw A, B, and C, which they claimed distressed and frightened them. The question is whether he knew, or whether a reasonable person ought to have known, that this would be the outcome of his behaviour.
For example, the first witness who spoke last week said they were checking the internet three times per night, and saw the video. They stated that anything which came from Rupert’s mouth was violent; they thought that the American Freedom Radio broadcast was directed toward them; they knew their name was on the list created by Sabine McNeill which had been given to Rupert; they saw his GoFundMe page and realised that he intended to come to the UK; they saw his Facebook post with its biscuit/knife references; and they were petrified for themselves and their children. The question, Judge Griffith asked, was whether a reasonable person knew or should have known that these actions would cause such a reaction.
The second witness was also frightened by the YouTube video, and was aware of the GoFundMe fund. This witness, too, was terrified that Rupert was coming for their children. The third witness expressed similar reactions, stating that they were afraid of the death threats which many “activists” and their followers had made, and particularly of Rupert’s, as they believed that they could be murdered, and their children left without a parent. They realised that they were on Sabine’s list, and they spent their life looking over their shoulder, worried that Rupert might make good on his threats. This witness was the only name the defendant says that he was aware of.
The fourth witness stated that they were afraid Rupert would kick down doors and “make people squeal” as he had threatened to do so. They said they feared violence would be used against them, and mentioned the safety of their children. Is it reasonable to infer that harm to a witness’ child would equate to harm to the witness?
Review of video evidence
The relevant parts of the YouTube video (A) and the American Freedom Radio broadcast (B) were replayed for the jury. In respect of A, Judge Griffith said the jury would need to decide whether the threats to kick down doors, take blood samples, and “go in there with some gusto” were aimed toward the parents.
In B Rupert stated that he planned to go to Hampstead and “stick his camera in”, and that “Americans are different—they’ve got guns; we need to test this out in a place where it’s less possible to get killed”. He said he “was able to slither away from America” because of his interest in the Satanic aspect, “because I don’t really care, I’m a jackass, okay?” He stated that the amount of abuse coming out against children was “astounding”, and that finding a real child-abusing Satanist would be “like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”. He gave a “shout-out” to Angela Power-Disney, and then said, “i want to go the violent route. I don’t wanna kill them, I just want to beat them up real good. Scare them to death”.
Following this replay of the audio, Judge Griffith added that Rupert had asked why he couldn’t put his hands on “them”. He said the jury must decide whether Rupert was referring to the parents or those who had trolled him.
Review of admissions
Judge Griffith reminded the jury of the admissions which had been agreed upon by both the prosecution and the defence. These included the links which had been sent by Sabine McNeill, and to the spreadsheet on Rupert’s hard drive which was dated late July 2016, which listed all the witnesses, amongst other people alleged to have been involved in the “cult”.
Review of defence arguments
He also reminded the jury of Rupert’s lack of previous offences (except for one cannabis infraction), and said that in this respect he would be considered a “person of good character”.
Judge Griffith reminded the jury that Rupert claimed that as a YouTube broadcaster in his “Hi, It’s Rupert” role, Rupert felt free “not to be his normal self”. Rupert claims that “kicking down doors” is just a figure of speech, and that he was just blowing off steam when he said that. He claims that this was not directed at the parents.
According to Rupert’s defence, Rupert experienced abuse and intimidation for a full year, had left the United States and been to Italy, at which time he had gone silent. He stated that when he was online, he was not talking about the parents in the case, but just trying to express his frustration. He states that he knew the name of the father of the two children in the Hampstead videos, but that his internet communications had not been aimed at him.
Rupert claims that he was petrified by the harassment aimed at him, and stated that “people were waiting for me” in the UK. He says he went to Hampstead to “see what it was like”, and that he was scared; he had no intention of meeting the parents, but took a picture of himself to show his friends and the trolls that he had been there.
In Rupert’s version of the case, the spreadsheet with the parents’ names on it was just “something to keep”.
He stated that “he was a victim too”, and that while he was in Italy he had become sure that Hampstead was a non-story.
Rupert does not accept that he played any role in the distress caused to the parents.
Jury sent out
Judge Griffith sent the jury out, with instructions that during this phase of their deliberations, all 12 of them must agree upon a verdict. He said that if no verdict was reached by 4:00 p.m., he would release them and bring them back tomorrow.
Jury note #1
At about 1:00 p.m., the jury sent a note to the judge asking him to explain the concept of “calculated” in the context of the Harassment Act 1997. Judge Griffith explained that “calculated” should be read as “intended”: “harassment must be aimed at someone, so you must be certain that he intended to cause alarm or distress”, he said.
Jury note #2
At 2:36 p.m., the jury asked to see Rupert’s YouTube video (A) once more.
Judge Griffith said that for each charge, “You must be satisfied that he was intending to harass one member of a group; in this case that means one member of the group of parents”. He said that as long as the jury was satisfied that the named parents were in the group that was being harassed, that would be satisfactory.
He also offered a definition of the term “harassment”, noting that it must be aimed at a person. There must be some intention to harass a small group, that is, the parents.
Jury released for the day
At 4:00 p.m. the jury was recalled from their deliberations. Judge Griffith warned them that they must not talk about the case, even amongst themselves, until they reconvened tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.
The jury’s deliberations will continue tomorrow.