A very painful process

“Jake” was sixteen and a half when he was arrested for an offence which took place in October 2017 . Today two months after his 20th birthday, the prosecution have finally accepted that there is no prospect of conviction.

In the mean streets of the M1 corridor there was a fight between a group of local youths and some from out of town on their way to the station. A weapon was involved and an injured party was taken to hospital having been restrained by officers,  he refused to cooperate with treatment and declined initially to provide a statement. He was also a minor at the time.

Part  1  Youth Court

Jake and another were both charged with causing actual bodily harm before The Youth Court. Despite the tempting prospect of being able to put the matter behind them with a referral order once a guilty plea had been entered, they denied the charges and  in September 2018 the complainant declined to attend trial. Finally, so they thought, in November 2018 a notice of discontinuance was served, it was considered by The Prosecution that there would be no realistic prospect of conviction.

Jake who had dropped out of his college course as a result of his arrest a year prior  was now  working to attain university places with this in the background were relieved to put this matter behind them.

Part 2 Crown Court

They certainly did not expect 8 months later (20 months after the initial fracas) having now become adults to receive a further notice requesting them to appear back before The Magistrates Court in respect of the same incident, this time charged with Grievous Bodily Harm, which can only be tried in the Crown Court. Once again , but this time before a different forum, Jake and his co defendant waited to be tried in early 2020.

There was no fresh evidence in the case, but the complainant’s mother requested that the CPS undertake a Vitim’s Right to Review. Her son had no interest in this but he was still a minor and therefore had no say in law.

It did not take a pandemic to cause chaos in the system  .

In November 2019,  The Judge agreed with defence that it would be a huge waste of resources if the complainants were not willing to comply again and that the prosecution ought to assist and confirm the position in relation to their co-operation in due course.

The CPS allowed the case to rumble on, despite the immeasurable impact and disruption it has on the young defendant’s lives.

The court was to hear legal argument in November 2019. This did not go ahead as the court lists could not accommodate this case and several others.

In January 2020 the trial was due to be heard, disclosure failings and lack of court time saw the case continue to be pushed back until a new trial date of August 2020 was provided. In the meantime Jake had started to receive offers to start university in September 2020.

But the pandemic made things worse

The summer came and went. The much publicised Crown Court backlog mounted and this case that ought to have been concluded in late 2018, and then  January 2020 was deemed “not a priority case” for listing purposes.

They just wouldn’t let it lie

In the weeks leading up to the trial in April 2021, The Crown were directed to confirm witness attendances. They were struggling to ensure attendance from any of the civilian witnesses who were no longer teenagers; The main complainant was as disinterested in pursuing the prosecution as he was three and a half years previously, but blind to this and despite the fact that since Summer 2019 he has not been a minor, and that it was his mother who sought the Victim’s Right to review on his behalf, this minor factor did not appear to trouble The CPS. The CPS considered it appropriate serve upon him a summons.

Finally moving on

We continued to urge The CPS to take a sensible view and put these young men’s minds to rest but was not until The Court to finally fiound space to list the matter for trial on a Friday for matters to come to ahead and for the CPS to finally offer no evidence.

Jonathan Black, partner a BSB solicitors, instructed Stella Harris of Garden Court who pushed the appropriate buttons to finally ensure our client could put this matter behind him having spent 25% of his time on this planet defending his case.