My thesis will bring together members of the public from all over Northern Ireland to observe scripted versions of a fictitious but typical rape trial, participate in a number of mock jury panels and deliver verdicts. As a former crime reporter who has covered many rape trials, I am keen to analyse what role false beliefs about rape and pre-conceived ideas about the behaviour of rape victims play in jury deliberations and how jurors influence each other’s decision-making processes. I will be collaborating with Women’s Aid NI to help me assess the implications of my research and potential applications for law and society.
I previously graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA in English Literature, before embarking on a career in journalism, during which I worked in Belfast and London, first as Ireland correspondent, then crime correspondent of the Guardian. I returned to education in 2016 to undertake a Masters in Law at Queen’s University Belfast.