An insight into the mind of a ‘chronic liar’?
An article on The Justice Gap website gives an interesting insight into the mind of Danny Day who falsely accused a fireman Dave Bryant of raping him three decades earlier. Dave Bryant was convicted in 2013 and sent to prison. His case was quashed on appeal in 2016. Shortly after his release his wife Lynn tragically died. Danny Day has now been charged with perverting the course of justice.
You can read the full account of this story in the Justice Gap article. I’d like to bring to the reader’s attention the appeal barrister’s thoughts on the motivation behind Danny Day’s false allegation.
When you are the victim of a false allegation it is natural to believe that your accuser is acting maliciously or is dishonestly trying to gain financial compensation and you will find it unbelievable that your accuser can seem so convincing to the police, and perhaps, to a jury. Understandably, your anger will be directed towards the person who has caused you so much pain and injury. However, sometimes the fault lies not so much with the complainant, but with the justice system. Dave Bryant’s awful experience seems to be an example of such a case.
Danny Day had mental health problems. To quote Mr Bryant’s appeal judge Mr Justice Singh: ‘[Over] a period dating from 2000 to 2010, Day had to seek medical attention from his GP in relation to what can only be described as his being a chronic liar.’ How did Danny’s testimony come to be believed by the court? The appeal barrister Rupert Butler made this comment.
‘As a defendant, you have very little ammunition to challenge that person [the chronic liar] because your case is: “I scarcely knew this person. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t there.” If there are inconsistencies in the complainant’s testimony ‘the compulsive liar can shrug their shoulders and blame it on the passage of time. Furthermore, they become plausible in their mistakes because they believe the narrative themselves. By the time they stand up and tell the courts it is in their own minds a fact.’
Rupert Butler believed that Danny was motivated by a desire to win over a psychiatric nurse and that he was a man who had not been loved in all his life, going to extreme measure to get attention. He had this to say about the difficulties faced by a jury trying to get to grips with a case like this.
‘Our system of justice is incompetent at dealing with these cases. It is unfair to ask a jury to unravel the complexities of Danny Day’s psychological makeup. We have got to get better at dealing with these cases and one way to do that is for the police not to believe complainants when they walk through the door.’
For the time being, we have an imperfect justice system, which is all too ready to ‘believe the victim’ however bizarre their story may be. When defending our innocence we need an expert specialist legal team that thoroughly understands how personality disorders and other mental health issues can lead to a person making a false allegation, and how that person can come to believe their own account and appear to be a credible witness. In doing this, the aim is not to destroy the complainant who may well be a vulnerable person themselves, but to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice.
Read the full article in the Justice Gap