Writer Jailed For 8½ Years After Failing to Speak in Court
A writer, artist and lecturer who didn't speak at his own trial due to his stammer was found guilty by a nine-woman, three-man jury in March 2018, subsequently spending 4 ½ years in prison.
Sean Parker, then 41, had founded and been running the music and arts venue Seafish in Bognor Regis when the local council withdrew the venue's alcohol licence at Christmas 2016.
It was uncontested at trial that the main complainant, 22, who had been a friend of Mr Parker's for a year before the allegations, had been drinking with the defendant for ten hours before going to bed together at his accommodation on the top floor of the venue.
Parker was responsible for bookings and publicity at Seafish, and throughout the year had hosted shows by artists including The Members, Mark Morriss of The Bluetones and Eat Static, plus performances by Grammy award-winning singer Deborah Rose, performance poet Attila the Stockbroker and Dodgy at that year's Blakefest (curated by Parker and filmed as part of a Sky Arts documentary).
Sources claim that the success of Seafish attracted the attention of council authorities who wanted Bognor Regis to 'Remain a retirement town' and were determined to close it down.
The defendant is active in the STAMMA organisation (formerly the British Stammering Association) having given a TED talk titled 'Stammering and Creativity' in Istanbul in 2013. The original video of this talk had nearly 40,000 online views.
After a witness for the defence turned hostile when Mr Parker had to leave Bognor due to social media intimidation, in consultation with his legal team Parker chose not to give evidence due to his stammer potentially being seen as 'A sign of guilt', possibly prejudicing the jury's stance against him.
The main complainant's then boyfriend - who Parker had employed as a cook at Blakefest and was later applying to join the police - said in court that he had 'Pushed and pushed [the
complainant] to comply' with his reporting of the night, while she said she didn't want to as Mr Parker was a friend.
The complainant of the supporting allegation replied that she 'Did not recognise the person in that video' of CCTV footage of her kissing the defendant some six months prior.
At a time of 'Believe the victims', a policy introduced by Keir Starmer when he was Director of
Public Prosecutions and enacted by his successor Alison Saunders (later sacked over the Liam Allan disclosure scandal) - and being on trial in the week that Harvey Weinstein was being arrested in New York - failing to speak in court due to an undisclosed speech impediment proved to be evidently fatal.
Following his conviction Parker's BBC Wales radio plays were deleted from the corporation's homepage, his TED talk was made 'Private' shortly before his release, numerous media platforms removed his articles, and various organisations had been contacted by a vigilante informer, giving advance 'Warning' of his release.
A similar situation had occurred while Parker was waiting fourteen months on bail, when a speaking engagement in Brighton was cancelled due to pre-trial 'Informing'. Parker now writes on justice reform as well as art and culture and continues to maintain his innocence.