Jailed Former Army Sergeant’s Delayed Trial Resulted in Second Victim’s Attack: Victim Speaks Out

ST AUSTELL, England – A former Army sergeant from Cornwall is raising concerns about delays in the justice system that allowed him to attack a second victim. Martin Underwood, originally from Par near St Austell, was jailed for threatening to kill one woman and trying to suffocate another during sex in two separate incidents.

Underwood’s first victim, who was assaulted in 2021, described him as controlling and dangerous. The second victim, Elizabeth Hudson, said Underwood held a plastic bag over her face and only removed it when she agreed to do what he demanded. She described the attack as the “most terrifying few minutes” of her life and expressed distress over delays in the court system.

Four months after the attack, it was agreed there was enough evidence to charge Underwood, and he eventually appeared in court 159 days after the attack. However, his trial was pushed back to a date 18 months after the attack due to a barristers’ strike, during which time he attacked his second victim.

After the second attack, Underwood was held on remand and entered guilty pleas at a subsequent court hearing, which ultimately led to his jail sentence 671 days after the attack on Elizabeth.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson described Underwood’s attacks as “appalling” and stated that the government is investing £477m to tackle the crown court backlog, which increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. The CPS also mentioned that it authorized charges against Underwood within days of South Yorkshire Police submitting a full file of evidence.

Despite the jail sentence and restraining orders being made, Ms. Hudson feels she and her fellow victim have been let down by the justice system. She believes the system does not put victims at the heart of it and has called for significant improvements in the way victims are supported.