Successes of the Month - December 2011
- Sara Cameron takes action to secure justice for a dyslexic victim
- Stacey Davis and Alison Mutch create a Disability Hate Crime DVD which is to be delivered in schools nationally
- Yetunde Martins, Saliha Ayub and Fiona Whillis go the extra mile to secure conviction in historic indecent assault case
- Neil Fielding and Tony Moore identify a way of bringing burglar's girlfriend to justice
- Honourable mentions: more examples of outstanding work
SCP takes action to secure justice for a dyslexic victim
This was a case of an assault where the defendant and witnesses all had mental health issues. In particular, the victim had learning disabilities, including dyslexia. The victim attended court together with his carer, and at first refused to give evidence because he could not recall the incident and could not read his statement.
Sara Cameron asked for more time, and ensured the statement was read to the witness slowly and several times until he could properly refresh his memory and was able to give evidence. He did so and the defendant was convicted.
Afterwards, through his care worker, the victim sent a message of appreciation to the prosecutor, for spending the time with him to enable him to give evidence, saying that he was very impressed with the way he was treated. As a result of this case, West Midlands Police are looking at the way they record statements for people with dyslexia, so that this is done in a way to be more accessible to witnesses with this condition, hopefully ensuring that this problem is not repeated.
Colin Molloy, Senior Sector Crown Prosecutor said: "I commend Sara for her actions at court which encouraged and allowed the victim to secure access to justice, but it did not stop there. After court, and with the support of her Sector Crown Prosecutor, Sara used the experience to give practical guidance to the police designed to enable dyslexic witnesses to be able to read their own statements. In brief, by using an increased font size and writing in black ink on yellow paper, our victim told us he could better understand his own statement."
Stacey Davis, Equality and Diversity and Community Engagement Manager, and Alison Mutch, Hate Crime Co-ordinator for CPS North West
Creating a Disability Hate Crime DVD which is to be delivered in schools nationally
Following a disability hate crime conference in 2010, Stacey Davis and Alison Mutch met with disability groups to discuss the concerns raised at the conference. One of the key issues identified through working with disabled groups was the need to engage with young people about the impact of disability hate crime on the victims.
Alison and Stacey developed a DVD and resource pack aimed at key stage 3-4 (11-16 year old) students, which shows four scenarios based on the life experiences of several disabled people and discussions with disabled people themselves about being the victims of disability hate crime and the impact that it had and continues to have on their lives.
Stacey Davis said: "The children and young people of today are tomorrow's adults, so it important to engage with them sooner rather than later. They need to appreciate the impact that disability hate crime has on others and also the impact it could have on their own futures if they commit such offences."
The DVD has already received excellent feedback from Cumbria Police, Wyre Borough Council, Blackburn Cathedral and Derby City Council, amongst others.
Alison Mutch said: "I am delighted that this example of partnership working has been so well received. We could not have achieved this without all of the support and input of the disabled groups across the North West who worked with us throughout the project."
The resource is also available in signed and subtitled versions and can be accessed on the CPS website.
Going the extra mile to secure conviction in historic indecent assault case
This was a case of indecent assault of young boys, with some offences having occurred over fifty years ago, for which the defendant, Leslie Carter, received a three-and-a-half year custodial sentence after guilty pleas. At the time of the offences, the victims were between the ages of seven and 14 and at the time of sentence Leslie Carter was over 80 years old.
As a result of the initial case, where Carter pleaded guilty to nine counts, additional evidence came to light which resulted in his being charged with a further nine counts. He pleaded guilty to the additional offences and the cases were linked for sentencing at Harrow Crown Court.
Some of the offences involved an abuse of the defendants position of trust as School Chaplain at Quainton Hall School in Harrow. This is thought to be one of the oldest cases of historic child sex abuse prosecuted in England and Wales.
Borough Crown Prosecutor Kwame Biney said: "I am very pleased with the successful outcome in this case and I would like to commend the hard work of Fiona Whillis and the reviewing lawyers, Saliha Ayub and Yetunde Martins, who worked tirelessly in order to ensure that everything ran smoothly. One of the victims gave evidence from South Africa over video link.
"Initial contact was by the police, followed by letters of request and numerous communications with the South African authorities. Arrangements had to be made for a Magistrate to be with the victim when giving evidence, and to facilitate the video link between Harrow Crown Court and Pretoria.
"Yetunde Martins made the charging decisions on the second part of the case and this, coupled with advice from Counsel Justin Bearman, assisted in drafting of indictments. After months of preparation, Justin Bearman successfully resisted an abuse of process argument on the day of trial, after which guilty pleas were entered. The team's commitment and effective case management, including hours of perseverance by Saliha and Fiona in getting the technical equipment set up for the video link, ultimately contributed to a successful conclusion to this case."
Neil Fielding, District Crown Prosecutor and Tony Moore, Paralegal Officer, of West Midlands Complex Casework Unit
Identifying a way of bringing burglars girlfriend to justice
In this case, not only was a professional house burglar bought to justice, but also his partner, Hayley Hughes, whose lifestyle was funded by his criminality.
Neil Fielding said: "In examining material in relation to a bad character application for Morris it became apparent that Hayley Hughes had been involved in assisting him previously. She had a comparatively minor previous conviction for handling goods stolen during his last spate of burglaries.
"I asked the police to look at her tax records and bank accounts and it became clear that she didn't have a significant declared income; but there were large amounts of cash flowing through her accounts, as well as large amounts of cash and property found in her possession."
Hughes denied everything from the start and contested the action against her under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) used to enforce repayment by criminals. However, by working closely with the police, an overwhelming case was presented which forced the defendant to plead guilty and to ultimately concede during the POCA proceedings. She was required to repay £126,635 from her remaining assets, which included her house.
The novel feature of this case is that this defendant, as the partner of the main defendant and not directly involved in wide scale burglary offences, had not been identified by the police as a target for investigation and it was only thanks to the reviewing lawyer's guidance that an investigation was instigated that led to her losing the benefit of her partner's ill-gotten gains.
Diana Cottrell, Senior Crown Prosecutor, CPS East Midlands, Leicester Crown Court Team
Diana secured rare convictions under the Hunting Act 2004 against a huntsman and a terrierman from the Fernie Hunt for illegally hunting a mammal with dogs and interfering with a badger sett. The defendants appealed, using expert witnesses and a specialist QC. Although Diana had little previous experience of hunting cases, she not only secured the original conviction, but successfully resisted the appeal, resulting in increased costs to the defendants.
Sajda Ahmed, Paralegal Officer, Yorks and Humberside
Sajda's contribution to the successful prosecution of three individuals involved in drugs and gangland-related crime was crucial in seeing the defendants put behind bars. The case was centred around a shooting that took place in September 2010 in Bradford. She had to deal with hearsay applications, hostile witness statements to be admitted and witness anonymity to be granted, pitted against a very demanding defence team. Reviewing lawyer, Richard Sagar, said: "Without Sajda's hard work, the case would not have had such a successful outcome."