Tom, would you like to look in the eyes of someone who's just made a complaint that they'd been the victim of a sex crime and say, "well, you know there's a very low conviction rate for this kind of offence
A rather emotional card to play in the debate? Police prosecutors make judgment calls about whether to proceed to Court every day, and for certain many bad guys "get away with it" because there simply was not a strong enough case against them.
You really do not want to remove this discretion from the Police, otherwise they are forced to "kick for touch" and sent the case to trial everytime someone walks in their door with a complaint. It takes little imagination to see how quickly such an setup could be readily abused by false or vexatious allegations.
In this case someone's desire to "get Rickard" (rightly or otherwise) may well have blinded them to the low odds of a guilty verdict. Or if they were perfectly aware of this, but proceeded anyway, then some legitimate questions might well be asked of their real motives.
Again I suggest that the Statute of Limitations went some distance to protect everyone (including the system itself) from prosecutions that are unlikely to succeed and result in more anguish than healing.
In a group of 12 people it only takes one person to have either heard or read something, or after all publicity after Rickards previous trial it was not rocket science to deduce what all the fuss was likely about.
Let's put it this way. I knew, and so did everyone else I know...so what were you chances of selecting a 12 member jury in which NO-ONE knew?
One thing no seems to be considering here is the wisdom of lodging these charges in the first place
This is why there used to be a Statute of Limitations on this kind of case. After the passage of 10 or more years the risk of a totally unsafe verdict just becomes too high and the outcome is likely to be more bitterness and controversy rather than any sense of closure or justice.
Sometime in the 90's (I forget exactly when) not only was the time limit on these sexual offence cases removed, but the legislation explicitly allowed for the possibility of conviction solely on the word of the complainant with no corroborative evidence required. Clearly juries are have not at all comfortable with convicting "beyond reasonable doubt" on this basis.
In all the furore about this case, we all tend to forget that a jury of 12 of our fellow citizens (and it almost certain they unofficially knew of Shipton's and Schollum's prior convictions), who listened to all the evidence, reached their own decision after many hours of deliberation. Who among us would be certain that we would have acted any differently if we had served on that jury?