Successes of the Month - January 2012
- CPS Wales Complex Casework Unit commended for outstanding prosecution
- Isla Chilton ensures swift justice for a dangerous rapist
- Mel Smith steps up to gain justice for a vulnerable victim
- Sue Rothan stirs CPS West Midlands' compassion to help feed the hungry
- Honourable mentions - more examples of outstanding work
Senior Crown Prosecutor (SCP) Suzanne Thomas, Caseworker Mandy Williams, SCP Grenville Barker, Former Complex Casework Unit (CCU) Head Tom Atherton, Senior Crown Advocate Mike Jones, Paralegal Assistant Jenna Reardon and CCU Casework Support Officer Ann Williams, CPS Wales
Team members commended for outstanding prosecution
John Cooper was convicted in May 2011 of two notorious double murders that took place in Pembrokeshire in the 1980s. Cooper remained undetected for many years and the case became one of the most notorious unsolved cases Wales has ever known.
A dedicated team of CPS staff - Suzanne, Mandy, Grenville, Tom, Mike, Jenna and Ann - worked tirelessly over a number of years to build the prosecution case for Operation Ottawa.
Just before Christmas, a number of the team received official recognition for their roles by being awarded Commendations from Dyfed Powys Police Chief Constable Ian Arundel.
The police investigations and eventual prosecution were the largest in Welsh legal history. The prosecution case was painstakingly assembled after a cold-case review revealed new forensic evidence that led police to Cooper. The CPS team involved undertook the massive task of preparing and presenting an astonishing amount of evidence.
When the trial started, the prosecution room at Swansea Crown Court was filled with evidence files and background material - and this represented only about a fifth of the total material generated by the case! The rest was kept at a storage facility and ferried to court if required. Finally, all this hard work led to the conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of a man who continued to deny having any involvement in the crimes.
Gerald Elias QC, prosecuting counsel, subsequently described the investigation and prosecution as "one of the finest I have seen in my career."
44 days from arrest to sentence: swift justice for a dangerous rapist
Mark Jackson was sentenced on 2 December 2011 at Carlisle Crown Court to12 years' imprisonment for the stranger rape of a 16 year old girl on her own driveway.
Isla Chilton provided advice and guidance pre- and post-arrest, including in the evenings and at the weekend, so that officers could speak to a single prosecutor with knowledge of the case. She also advised on points of law and attended the police station to view CCTV during the investigation. Following three days of interviews with Jackson, Isla authorised charge at 11pm. For continuity, and to support the victim and her family, Isla appeared at court for the bail application the following morning.
She liaised closely with the police to ensure forensic and identification evidence and the victim's testimony was served in advance of the preliminary hearing and ensured the evidence was put before the judge at the earliest opportunity, leaving the defendant with little option but to plead guilty to the full offence.
Isla said: "This was a terrible, violent attack which had a devastating effect on the young victim. We were determined to do everything we could to bring the perpetrator to justice and make sure he could not attack again. I worked closely with the police to consider the evidence and build the case as quickly as possible. In the end the evidence was so overwhelming he was left with no option but to plead guilty."
Following sentencing, DCI Ashton from Cumbria Police said: "I would like to thank Isla, who worked closely with us on this case and who always answered her phone, no matter what time of day and night, to assist us. Without her help we may not have been able to charge Jackson so quickly."
Chris Long, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West said: "Isla really did go beyond the call of duty in this case which reflects the commitment that I see from her on a daily basis. The outcome is a real credit to her professionalism and enthusiasm."
SCP stands in at the last minute to gain justice for vulnerable victim
Mel picked up a complex and sensitive case with a vulnerable victim at very short notice; gaining the confidence of the victim and putting in a confident, high quality performance in court, resulting in maximum sentence and praise from the victims family and the police.
In 2006 Adrian Ringland was convicted of grooming and sexual offences relating to several teenage girls and imprisoned. Soon after his release on licence, he harassed one of his victims by text message. Ringland was recalled to prison and prosecuted for harassment.
On the morning of the trial, the lawyer who was scheduled to prosecute the trial was involved in an accident and had to seek medical attention. Mel Smith was asked to pick up the case at extremely short notice.
The case was by no means straightforward, with a vulnerable victim who was very scared and who required special measures, complex phone evidence and a number of witness statements.
Mel met with the officer in the case, the victim and her family and quickly made them all feel confident that she had a full understanding of the case and put them at ease by explaining the process to them.
During the trial, Mel gave an excellent professional performance, leaving the bench in no doubt that the evidence was overwhelming.
Ringland was convicted and received the maximum sentence of six months, as well as an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order with nine stringent conditions preventing him from ever contacting this victim or any of his previous victims.
The officer in the case was so impressed with the way Mel conducted the case and dealt with the victim and her family that he called and emailed to commend her, saying: "from a police point of view, Mel was a pleasure to work with."
Michelle Mannion, acting District Crown Prosecutor, said: "This was an unforeseen emergency. The teamwork and cooperation shown by Mel quickly resolved a potentially difficult situation.
She worked well with an extremely vulnerable victim, dealt with the issues sensitively, grasped the phone evidence and ensured a dangerous criminal and threat to women was sent back to prison and prevented from reoffending."
CPS staff's compassion helps to feed the hungry
Sue seized an opportunity publicised in the Coventry Telegraph to help vulnerable families living in the city, by encouraging staff at her office to contribute to the newspaper's 'Waste Not, Want Not' campaign.
Sue organised a collection of food - which staff had raided from their pantries or bought specifically to donate - at the CPS office at Manor House Drive and that of another company housed in the same building. A large amount of food, including porridge and pasta, was quickly accumulated and donated to Coventry Soup Kitchen, with staff promising that it would be the first of many.
She said: "I read about the campaign in the local paper, and was saddened to think that in this day and age, some people in our own community don't have enough to eat. I was really moved by one particular story involving three children who had been found sitting under a table at a play project, eating porridge powder that had been used for a craft project. I just thought that this was something that we in the office could help with, so I organised the collection. It's been such a success that we have delivered two food collections so far, and hope to do more in the future."
Sue combined the collection with a cake sale, the proceeds of which enabled more food to be purchased and passed on to the charity.
The organiser of the soup kitchen, Kervin Julian, said: "For me, it's not so much the big companies donating that really touches you, its when you can reach out to the hearts of individuals in the community. (CPS) staff told me that they see people at their worst when they're sentencing them [sic]. But they obviously recognise people sometimes make the wrong choices. The CPS responding to this campaign shows that they may have to make some tough decisions but they really do have a heart."
More examples of outstanding work from around the country
Reviewing Lawyer Jack Renwick and Paralegal Officer Bobby Drayan, CPS London
Jack and Bobby were central to the successful prosecution of 20 defendants following a Metropolitan Police investigation into drug dealing: Jack by providing excellent early and ongoing advice and Bobby by exemplary work during the case. 20 defendants were sentenced to a total of around 66 years for a range of offences, mainly conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
DCCP Jenny Hopkins said: "Jack and Bobby delivered a first class service on this case and the results are a testament to all their hard work."
Kim James, SCP, and Sue Fisher, Paralegal Officer, CPS South West
Richard Smith and Michael Sexton were sentenced to minimum sentences of 28 and 25 years respectively for the murder of Keith Soons, who was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver when he tried to retrieve an iPhone that they had stolen from him.
District Crown Prosecutor Rachael Scott said: "Kim met with the family of the Keith Soons before the trial commenced and spoke to the family every day during the long trial. It is clear from the comments made by the family that they appreciated Kims support through this difficult time. Sue diligently correlated the vast amounts of material, was the lynch-pin of communication with Gloucestershire Constabulary and effectively managed the witnesses in conjunction with the Gloucestershire Witness Care Unit."
Tanya Soons, Keith's sister, said: "On behalf of my family I would like to thank all those who have supported us throughout this difficult time. Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson and his team from Gloucestershire police have been a huge help along with...those from the Crown Prosecution Service."