‘It’s like being hit by a truck’: One victim shares the aftermath of being failed by the criminal justice system

  • london
  • April 14, 2023
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Remembering March 30 is difficult for Emily Hunt.

‘It’s almost a blank because your body and your mind don’t really want to hang on to when you feel horrible.’

She had no sleep the night before and when she came home she ‘basically collapsed’.

‘The idea of even walking to a restaurant around the corner was too far away,’ the 43-year-old tells Metro.co.uk.

It was a day that had followed almost eight years of campaigning for Emily – along with several PTSD episodes – and ended in the man who terrified the life out of the mum-of-one, walking away from court without a prison sentence.

Now, the self-described ‘victim-turned-law-changer’ has bravely waived her anonymity to share how the ordeal has has impacted her life in every way – and why she’s fighting to help others like her.

It was in 2015 when Emily went to lunch with her dad and just hours later woke up naked in a London hotel room bed next to a stranger in 2015. She didn’t know how she’d got there. Fearing she had been drugged and raped, she later found out the man, whose name is Christopher Killick, had videoed her without her consent.

Despite reporting all this to the police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told Emily there was not enough evidence to charge Killick with rape and said it was not illegal to film someone without their permission.

Killick was finally convicted of voyeurism in 2020, after Emily threatening a judicial review and the Court of Appeal ruling in a different case that it is always illegal to film someone in an intimate way without their permission. 

He received a restraining order which banned him from contacting Emily directly or indirectly.

‘I had fought for five years to have him inside a courtroom,’ Emily writes in her new book We Need to Talk. ‘In that time, I’d sacrificed my career, relationships with friends and family who didn’t understand, my time, and, at various points, my mental wellbeing, to be sitting in that courtroom.

‘It was over. He wasn’t going to jail. His liberty hadn’t really been affected at all. But he was on the sex offenders register and could never contact me again. It felt incomplete.’

However, within a year Killick, 43, broke the terms enforced on him when he tweeted about his victim in July 2021. In one post he just wrote Emily’s name, in another he said he would ‘reveal all’ about his story and he demanded an ‘apology’ for her public comments.

The contact triggered a relapse for Emily, who had been diagnosed with PTSD after what happened in 2015.

Despite being arrested for breaching the restraining order against him the next month, he continued to post about Emily and eventually, in January this year, Killick was remanded in custody until his sentencing on March 30.

For Emily, the last two years have been an uphill battle.

‘I have taken a massive financial hit. I’ve been getting back on my feet since the summer and I’m now ready to go back into the world in a super full-time way but that’s nearly two years,’ she explains. ‘That’s a really long time to have a negative impact. PTSD impacts my daughter and impacts my life.’

However not only has Emily been struggling with more than the devastating effects of her attack, she has also spent the last eight years trying to navigate the criminal justice system, which she found ‘Kafkaesque, infuriating and mind-boggling’.

Looking back, she felt she had to ‘project-manage’ the Metropolitan Police and the CPS all while struggling with the emotional damage of what happened to her.

Emily explains how she got in touch with the Met more than two weeks before the date of Killick’s sentencing to try and make arrangements which would make her comfortable, but instead was still organising the logistics up until the morning of the hearing.

As an activist who is working to change the criminal justice system herself, she was keen to speak with the prosecutor who would be presenting her side.

‘I really didn’t feel comfortable with the prosecutor prosecuting the case without speaking to me because I really felt like she didn’t know it,’ Emily explains.

But the prosecutor would only speak with her in person, on the day of the hearing, at the same court her attacker would be.

Emily explains why she did not want to be anywhere near Killick: ‘He makes me scared for my safety and my family’s safety.

‘We had to ask questions about what happens if there’s an emergency and we have to be evacuated? There’s just things that scare me about him all the time.’

She desperately tried to find a way to speak with the prosecutor on a different day, or through a video call, but was simply told this was not possible.

‘She [the prosecutor] views herself as so busy with her professional obligations that she will only meet with somebody on the day and she will not consider meeting with somebody at any other time,’ says Emily.

‘She genuinely had no awareness of how she came across to a victim. I could clearly say see she takes pride in her work, she sees this as important – she probably sees herself as very victim-focused.

‘But this was absolutely the wrong thing to say to me. Because, first of all, it’s imagining that I have no professional obligations or caring obligations or a life – that I need to work to her schedule because she’s the important one here.

‘I don’t think she’s a horrible person and I don’t think that she would ever imagine that she’s positioning herself as more important than the victim – although she is 100%.

‘This is somebody who’s going to work and treating it like work, and of course it is and I get that, but you’re interacting with people every day for whom this is a deeply unusual situation. She absolutely didn’t get it.’

On the morning of the hearing, the ‘insanity began’ with Met telling Emily that the prosecutor had actually changed her mind and agreed to speak with her via video call.

She was also told she could watch the sentencing from a room in a police building with a remote viewing link.

Two hours to go and suddenly as if by magic, everyone remembers that Teams exists and I don’t have to go to court to speak to the prosecuting barrister. Do I trust them enough to turn up to the Teams? To listen? To do their job without my supervision? I don’t have long to decide.

— Emily Hunt OBE (@emilyinpublic) March 30, 2023

Although last-minute, Emily took the opportunity not to go to court and agreed to the circumstances. She had organised a bodyguard to come with her to the hearing but told him he no longer had to accompany her and went to shower to get ready.

After, Emily noticed she had a message on her phone saying her husband would not be allowed to be with her while she watched the hearing. However, she knew his support was vital to her.

Over the next few hours, she went back and forth with the Met until London’s victims commissioner Claire Waxman called Emily and advised her to go to court to avoid any other issues.

‘So I went to the court without my bodyguard on I’m very much against my wishes – it was so unnecessary,’ she remembers

Claire and Emily had worked together in several initiatives to improve victim care and, after seeing how Emily’s case was being handled, got involved herself.

‘My office has had to actively get involved in this case to pick up all the gaps – which is not what my office should be doing,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. 

‘And Emily has had to work so hard on behalf of her own case – again, not what a victim should be doing. 

‘It’s stressful enough, it’s traumatic enough for Emily and other victims to go into court and watch the sentencing.’

The day before this, Emily says she had ‘absolutely lost it’ with the Met because she found out they were going to tell the court she had only suffered a medium level of harm – this is one of the factors that influences how harsh the court decides to be when sentencing.

‘They were going to go to court and ask for almost nothing, essentially, and not protect me with an appropriate restraining order,’ she explains.

‘Most importantly, this is a conversation happening the afternoon before the hearing – completely unacceptable from a victim care perspective.

‘The thing with PTSD is that stuff feels like an attack even when it’s not, and with things like that, it’s really hard to try and be objective to try and feel like it’s not a personal attack on me.’

Thank you as ever for support from the brilliant @LDNVictimsComm, I’ve taken quite sensible advice to go to court after all to prevent any further complications. This. Is. Insane. Victims shouldn’t have to manage the system. #DoBetter https://t.co/VJ6vXUtzc0

— Emily Hunt OBE (@emilyinpublic) March 30, 2023

Emily eventually convinced the Met and the CPS to change their classification to say she had experienced the top level of harm, but she was not happy with the language they had in the restraining order they were going to put forward.

Something Claire agrees with. ‘What I saw presented from the CPS, I really questioned whether that was enforceable. It was very vague,’ she says.

‘And if you put something very vague in a restraining order, you’re allowing the perpetrator to circumvent it very easily.’

Emily turned to a stalking and harassment charity, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, to come up with language that made her feel safer.

The restraining order the Met Police suggested:

The defendant shall not:

1. Contact or attempt to contact Emily Hunt, directly or indirectly, by any means, including but not limited to: Telephone, email, fax, letter, post card, SMS or any other form of text message, social media (including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, What’s app)or via any third party.

2. Name Emily Hunt in any social media, other public forum or personal website.

The restraining order the Suzy Lamplugh Trust suggested:

The defendant should be:

  • Prohibited from stalking, harassing or intimidating Emily Hunt.
  • Prohibited from physically approaching, following or waiting for Emily Hunt.
  • Prohibited from contacting directly, indirectly or by any means Emily Hunt.

For the purposes of the restriction above, ‘contact’ includes requesting to ‘follow’, ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on the social media accounts/posts of those individuals listed, attending Emily Hunt’s residential or work address, or any other addresses which the respondent knows or suspects to be an address that Emily Hunt is residing in or is present on.

  • Prohibited from commenting on the investigation into this matter, not to refer to the complainant of the investigation in any social media post whether by name or by reference.
  • Prohibited from being present within any area marked within the one and half mile radius [redacted].
  • Prohibited to post any information about the complainant online – this includes not to post any photograph, video or vocal account of the complainant even if that has already appeared online on another platform.
  • Prohibited from encouraging, inciting, suggesting or asking any person to do anything prohibited by this order.

The restraining order Emily ended up with:

The defendant shall not:

  1. Contact or attempt to contact Emily Hunt, directly or indirectly, by any means, including but not limited to: Telephone, email, fax, letter, post card, SMS or any other form of text message, social media (including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, What’s app)or via any third party.
  1. Name Emily Hunt in any social media, other public forum or personal website.
  2. Not to post or repost any material, including but not limited to photographs and videos, reasonably identifiable as being of, about or by Emily Hunt.
  3. Go to any place he knows or reasonably believes Emily Hunt to be.
  4. Go the London Boroughs of [redacted].

She wanted Killick to be banned from her London borough but was repeatedly told this was not usually done because explicitly prohibiting an area reveals where a victim lives.

But Emily had explained Killick already knew where her home was multiple times.

‘It obviously seems very minor to them. But it makes me, and probably other victims, feel like they don’t have a grip on the case – like they don’t know the facts,’ she explains. 

‘And you’re putting me through more by making me repeat the details of the initial crime that caused me to have a restraining order. It’s really upsetting. 

‘How safe I feel depends on how enforceable the restraining order is.’

Claire adds that Emily’s experience is sadly ‘pretty standard for most victims of crime’.

‘Becoming a victim of crime is very disempowering anyway. And then you come into a criminal justice system that disempowers your further,’ she explains.

‘You can’t participate in it. You are literally on the side-lines looking in – yet the crime has impacted your life.’

I wish what @emilyinpublic had been through the last few weeks was unique. It’s not. She has battled the fragmented justice process that fails to consider victims needs and views. If a victim care hub was in place, she would not have not endured any of this chaos. It’s a sham. https://t.co/6bstASqUGf

— Victims’ Commissioner London (@LDNVictimsComm) March 30, 2023

Following the trial, Snaresbrook Crown Court handed Killick a 14-month prison sentence suspended for two years, a 35-day rehabilitation requirement and 160 hours of unpaid work.

It also issued a restraining order against him that banned him from being in his victim’s borough but it seemed to Emily that they ‘ignored almost everything else’ from the language Emily had sent them from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

Emily, who felt safest and most able to move on with her life when Killick was behind bars, insists that what he received was ‘not a real sentence’.

Recalling how she felt after the hearing, Emily says: ‘It was like being hit by a truck. I was absolutely flattened and it felt impossible and ridiculous all at the same time. 

‘The whole thing was just remarkably unconsidered.’

The CPS told Metro.co.uk: ‘Christopher Killick knew his actions were wrong, illegal, and have caused immense harm. He has been convicted and sentenced.

‘We understand the distress and trauma this man’s actions have caused the victim. We listened to her view of the impact of Killick’s continued offending, and applied to the court to strengthen the restrictions within the restraining order.  

‘We know how difficult and intimidating the justice process can be and we are always seeking to improve the support we give to victims as they navigate this.’

Now, the CPS is currently working with Claire to transform its service to victims to be supportive and minimise further trauma.

It has pledged its commitment to this ‘significant, long-term programme of work’ and said it is aware ‘that the way in which we communicate with victims has fallen short of what they need, and rightly expect.’

While, Claire is hopeful about this programme, she worries about the CPS becoming yet ‘another agent for victims to communicate with’, having to repeatedly tell their stories.

The commissioner is currently trying to develop a London Victim care Hub to act as ‘a single point of contact for victims throughout their criminal justice journey, ensuring they are adequality informed and supported’.

Emily gave herself the weekend to ‘feel like a wreck’ and waited for Monday to come when she knew she would have ‘a fire lit under her about how this has to change and it has to change right now’.

She said: ‘Because that’s what makes me feel better – changing it not just for me but for other people.

‘I cannot believe that’s the way I was treated and we have to do better.  It’s really clear that we need to a better job in care for victims because at the end of the day, we cannot have a functional criminal justice system that puts dangerous criminals in prison if we don’t have victims willing to participate and we need them to have faith in the system.’

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