Transgender rape accused is ‘vulnerable’ and not ‘predatory male’, court told

A transgender woman accused of rape was “in no way a predatory male”, her lawyers have said.

But prosecutors insist Isla Bryson, who is alleged to have raped two women: one in Clydebank in 2016; and one in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 2019; “preyed” on vulnerable women.

A court previously heard in agreed evidence that Bryson identifies as a transgender woman, but was previously known by the “dead name” Adam Graham.

Giving evidence herself, Bryson, 31, told the court that she knew she was transgender at the age of four but did not make the decision to transition until she was 29, and is currently taking hormones and seeking surgery to complete gender reassignment.

She said in 2016 she was “struggling with my sexuality and having issues emotionally”.

Defending at the High Court in Glasgow, Edward Targowski KC, described the three main witnesses in the trial as “vulnerable”, adding: “And that includes Isla Bryson.”

He spoke about how Bryson met the women, on separate occasions, via the internet, saying how they “are not the sort of people who go to pubs to socialise”.

He told the jury: “All witnesses used social media to find companionship, they use social media to make connections.”

Mr Targowski spoke about Bryson’s gender, saying: “She is transitioning from male to female gender.

“That is the position.

“If you accept that evidence, that she is transitioning, that she is aiming to continue on that path to becoming female gender, that goes a long way to acquitting her of these charges.”

He spoke about Bryson going through a marriage breakdown in 2016, around the time she met the first alleged victim, adding: “If you look at the circumstances, you do not have a predatory male – you have somebody who is vulnerable.”

He added: “Her (Bryson’s) evidence is a complete denial of rape, asserts that all sex was consenting.

“Where I do take issue with the trial and advocate depute is that there is no way Isla Bryson could be described as a predatory male.

“This is not the sort of case we are in.”

But in his closing speech to the trial on Monday, advocate depute John Keenan said there was “clear evidence” of a lack of consent in both the alleged victims’ accounts, which he described as “credible and reliable”.

In front of the 15-strong jury, Mr Keenan spoke of how one complainer’s account described when the accused was at her home.

He told the court: “He (the accused) was too strong and she couldn’t push him off, she said no, loudly, on multiple occasions.”

“She continued to try and push him off but he said no.”

Mr Keenan said “she was scared and sick to the stomach about what had gone on” and that “she was worried about her family.”

In relation to the account from the second alleged victim, Mr Keenan told the jury: “There is clear evidence from the complainer there was not consent.

“She told the accused to stop, that she couldn’t breathe, that she didn’t want to. The accused did not stop,” he said.

“That account is corroborated by her distress.

“It must have been obvious that there was no consent.

In response to Bryson’s evidence, Mr Keenan said the accused’s account was “entirely incredible and unreliable”.

He told the court: “I submit the accused’s simple denials ring out hollow when you compare them with the detailed accounts of the complainers.

“The accused gave long, rambling answers to the questions, but they lack any real detail of the events and coherent explanation of how the proposed consent was given by the complainers or exhibited.

“The accused had preyed on two vulnerable female partners.”

The jury are out for deliberation and Lord Scott adjourned the trial until Tuesday.