Monday, July 11, 2005

Doh!

I went down to the Police Station today to deal with a Client accused of a domestic ABH. I arrived at the Police Station slightly later than planned and spoke with the Officer dealing with the case.

I was given disclosure and told that the victim had reported on Saturday that a nasty domestic assault had taken place back in April 2005. The allegation was nasty in that it was suggested that my Client had repeatedly kicked the victim in the leg causing her a permanent limp.

I asked various questions in disclosure:

Me: "Have you got a statement from the victim yet?".
Them: "No, not yet."
Me: "Do you have a statement from anyone who can corroborate the victim's version of events?"
Them: "No."
Me: "If this is such a nasty incident why has it taken two days to arrest my Client?".
Them: "Bombs, and a murder".
Me: "Fair point".

I then had a consultation with the Client who quite frankly did not say much, and what he did say did not sound very convincing. Whilst my eyes wandered around the interview room that I was having the consultation in I noticed that the Officer had left behind one page to a witness statement. I picked up the statement and then discovered that it was a one page statement from the victim. What luck I thought!

My next thought was, "You lying bas***ds". The victim's statement said that she did not want to pursue the allegation and that she was not going to attend at Court. So the Police did have a statement from the victim and had chosen to lie to me when I asked if they did have a statement. Also, and I am guessing here, it did not take two days to arrest my Client due to bombs and a murder. It took them two days because they were only going to prosecute my Client if he admitted to a crime.

I assess every case on it's own merits but generally speaking when it comes to domestic violence cases my Clients do not answer questions - today's case was a fine example why. I generally expect to be dealt with by the Police as the enemy but I do not expect them to lie to me - that is underhand and out of order. If they did not want to answer the question they could have answered it with a, "No comment".

9 comments:

Lennie Briscoe said...

I don't have much experience of solicitors so bare with my views.
I suppose you could be seen as "the enemy" as you are opposing the police and the state (but an important one to keep the scales in balance).
We turn up at a domestic to find the woman in tears with a fat lip and a drunken husband asleep upstairs. The women normally don't want to make a statement or support police action because they 'love' their partner. Infact they wrongly love them, as the beatings continue... Perhaps the police wanted to try and get another statement from her? i.e. change her mind..

Gavin said...

Domestic cases are always a little bit messy. In this particular case the Client may well have done everything that the Police claimed that he did, and perhaps he should have been prosecuted and perhaps the domestic violence policy of the CPS should have been enforced so that the wife was summonsed to Court to give evidence on the basis of the claims she made to the Police.

What I really objected to in this case was the blatant lying by the Police. If they wanted to get a second statement, or even talk to the victim again they should not have misled me. It would have been fine to tell me that they did not have a statement covering the nature and extent of the assault. But to lie and tell me that they did not have a statement at all was underhand.

I am bound by professional ethics where I am not allowed to lie, or represent a Client whom has given one set of instructions then relies on another (i.e. lies) - why should I have to battle with the other side who on this occasion broke the rules?

RichieB said...

I must admit Gavin that I completely agree.
Also the time taken to report that she was assaulted with a "particularly serious" ABH seems a tad unusual. Possibly she had had another spat with her hubby on either the Friday night or Saturday lunchtime and decided she'd make him pay for the previous vicious row. My personal view here is that if she didn't think it serious enough over two months ago, why does it now seem so serious? Especially as she doesn't even now wish to attend court or pursue the matter.

staghounds said...

2 things to consider-

the statement you saw doesn't describe the alleged crime- maybe that's what the police officer thought you referred to.

Second- maybe it was "left behind" on purpose...

Gavin said...

I accept that the Police may have had in mind that they did not have a statement about the actual facts of the case but the language used is as I have already described:

Me: "Have you got a statement from the victim yet?"
Them: "No, not yet".

What other interpretation can you put on the answer given to my question? This is a bit like Bill Clinton denying the Monica Lewinsky naughtiness.

The statement was not left behind oin purpose because the PC got a right dressing down by a DC who was in the interview with her.

Digital Dave said...

The Police must be seen to be honest or the Police will never be fully trusted. If they aren't trusted then this causes problems for the Police when they are doing their jobs correctly.

Personally, I would consider this level of dishonesty to be extremely serious even though they may have thought they were acting in the best interests of the victim. Out of interest was any action taken against the persons involved in the lying?

Anonymous said...

I find your post hard to swallow why?

This line " The victim's statement said that she did not want to pursue the allegation and that she was not going to attend at Court.!"

In police training you are taught not to write this in any statement.

It belongs in a victim impact statement.

Ergo I find your post intresting and I feel you may have been played.

Gavin said...

Obviously I was not trained to write witness statements by the Police. The statement appeared to be more of a victim impact statement than anything else.

I was surprised that such a statement had been written prior to the interview.

I was most definately played!

Gavin said...

Digital Dave,

I did not take the matter further as the complaints procedure would no doubt grind to a halt when they realise that the 'error' did not result in a conviction etc.

It takes several hours to make a complaint about something at the Police Station to an Inspector - I simply have not got the time to waste on a complaint that I know will not get anywhere.