* We’re in the process of transferring content from our old site. Please bear with us while we finish updating this site. The full story of Jim’s trial is below, but please do get in touch with us if you’d like more information.
On Monday 19th October 2009, Jim Watts was convicted of sexually assaulting four disabled residents at a care home in North Devon, where he was employed as a part time driver. He was subsequently sentenced to twelve and a half years in prison, reduced to four years on appeal. Jim is an innocent man and has been the victim of a grave miscarriage of justice, spending two years in prison for crimes he did not commit.
His story is below in full, with details of the case as it unfolded. Please have a look around this site, read the information and decide for yourselves. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like any more information on Jim’s case.
The story of the plight of Jim Watts
In 2008 Jim was accused of sexual assaults against four disabled women at a North Devon care home whilst working there as a minibus driver. He had been employed for 2 ½ years and worked 12 ½ hours a week. The women were all wheelchair bound with varying disabilities and wore incontinence pads (nappies) which were double padded for outings.
March 6th 2008 – he was suspended pending investigations following allegations by a 30yr old Japanese volunteer that he’d inappropriately touched one of the service users.
The unfolding scenario was ‘uncovered’ by the investigating officer and culminated in a 13 count indictment alleging sexual impropriety…
– September 2007 the Japanese volunteer thought she saw Jim touching the breast of a service User (1), whilst feeding her in a busy pub at lunchtime and she ‘definitely’ saw him in January 2008. She doesn’t disclose this until March 2008.
– She was also ‘concerned’ for another service user (2) who was alone with Jim in the minibus after carriage riding and she’d heard her ‘scream’. Jim would return her to the vehicle after her turn on the carriage and wait with her after strapping her chair securely into the vehicle and waiting the 10 minutes before the next service user would be returned. No other allegations have been made by any other staff throughout his employment there.
– The Japanese woman also mentioned another woman (service user 3) but failed to mention her in a statement to the police. This same service user was then brought in as hearsay evidence by the manager of the care home.
– The 4th woman was introduced by service user no.3
Methods of Communication
-Service user 1 could not communicate at all
-Service user 2 used an electronic communicator with icons.
-Service user 3 looked up for yes and down for no; a method not 100% reliable on home’s own staff evidence
-Service user 4 could speak at the time of the police interview but suffered further strokes which now inhibits speech.
Service users Evidence
– Service user 1 was not seen by the jury at all.
– Service user 2 was interviewed twice. The 2nd interview was conducted to clarify the ‘confusing account’ given in the first interview where it is claimed Jim took her out of her matrix chair, sat her on his lap and raped her.
-The ‘spoken’ word/phrase was not chosen by the service user but given by the communicator.
-Despite being unable to read – identical icons, apart from the labels, for Yes and No were adjacent to each other
-After indicating from a photograph that she wanted to talk about Jim she was immediately directed to a ‘body parts’ page. Since Jim’s suspension she’d had no means of asking where he was or saying she missed him.
– There were no icons for like, I don’t understand, I can’t remember etc. She was therefore ‘forced’ to give an answer where she may not have given an answer at all. On the occasions this user was asked if she understood she indicated that she did not. It was also shown that she had appeared to make allegations against others which were provable to be false/unreliable.
– Service user 3 claimed she’d been assaulted by Jim on outings together with the service user 4. Only 1 record in April 2006 of the 2 service users (3+4) being on an outing together and then there was another member of staff present. She was spoken to by the investigating officer off the record 5 ½ months after Jim’s dismissal, but not interviewed for a further month in the presence of the manager of the care home.
-Her suggestibility and unreliability could be clearly demonstrated.
-She failed, until directed to his photograph, to identify Jim
– 28 times when her response was unclear or ambiguous she responded YES when asked by the home’s manager for a clear Yes or No response thus showing compliance.
– When asked if a question was understood she replied that she did not. No evidence that Jim went into this service user’s room but collected from the dining room. No evidence to show that he was ever alone with her only that he never took her out alone.
Only evidence of distress after carriage riding because of her dislocated hip and that she didn’t like carriage riding not the outing with Jim.
Service user 4
-Claimed that Jim had repeatedly raped her on a daily basis during his entire employment.
– She also claimed that he’d locked her bedroom door, threatened her with a carving knife, and that he’d raped her and service user 3 on a green fold-up camp bed on the minibus in secluded parts of North Devon
-There were other more bizarre allegations also such as putting one residents trousers on another!
- The pub was a busy pub and they always sat in the public areas
- The allergy to horses had been reported to senior staff and as a result the service user had been prescribed medication
– In court the Japanese woman said “I didn’t saw anything” and that she sat back to back to Jim in the pub!
- Service user 2 was initially mentioned by the Japanese volunteer, but not in her police statement. She was based on hearsay evidence by the manager of the care home.
- The bus was parked in a busy public area where both staff and the general public passed by.
- Jim used the smaller white minibus not the larger green one photographed for evidence
- The carriage riding lasted about 10 minutes
- The service user was heard to ‘scream’ but in court it was said to be a screeching noise made when happy
- The journey logs proved that the journeys were to and from the home to the pub, carriage riding and back. There were no deviations. No stopping at secluded places.
- Service user 4 was unable to identify Jim, and was proved wrong when her answers were checked for accuracy.
– She was shown to have a tendency to confabulate due to her brain injury
- She was fed the name by the investigating officer of the service user described by the Japanese volunteer despite choosing the name of someone who didn’t even reside at the care home.
– Even the prosecution agreed the knife was a bizarre allegation
– No camp bed was found
- The sun loungers had no DNA evidence on them.
- There were NO locks on her bedroom door
– There was no evidence in any record of any distress shown when out with Jim.
- No suggestion of any disruption to clothing or incontinence pads
- No physical marks.
- No medical evidence to support allegations of penetrative assault.
– No DNA evidence
The evidence pointed to very limited opportunity for offending.
The questioning of the service users was flawed…
– The interviews were carried out on the assumption that Jim had sexually assaulted them.
- There was no rapport building, no testing the individuals’ memory or knowledge of anatomy or sexual matters, nor was it ascertained if they knew right from wrong, truth or lies, nor if they understood the purpose of the interview or the seriousness of it.
- There was no baseline criteria against which an account ‘created’ could be tested.
●No attempt to ensure that they understood the questions asked of them.
●In fact when asked if they understood they indicated they did not.
The residents were shown to be provably suggestible and compliant
- The officer created the narrative not the service user
– Expert evidence – the service users were highly suggestible and likely to give affirmative answers to leading/complex questions.
– All questions asked were leading.
In fact in cross questioning the investigating officer it was demonstrated that the service users had given no reliable evidence at all.
The frightening thing is that anyone, male, female, old or young, could be falsely accused and end up in prison even if you have done nothing wrong. 120,000 innocent adults are accused every year. Law abiding people can be convicted on the word of a ‘victim’ who may or may not have a grudge against you. The people investigating the case routinely assume you are guilty and treat you accordingly. Your name, address and photograph may appear in local or national press and on TV, insinuating what an evil monster you are. You can be convicted without proof, evidence, witnesses or corroboration and live for years in prison.
What is concerning is the apparent inability of the police to carry out unbiased and honest investigations. It is assumed that just because an allegation has been made, it must be true. This can lead to poor investigatory techniques and incorrect conclusions and as long as this continues the number of false accusations, and therefore false convictions, grows daily.
How do you prove a negative?