The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Star is Born

This report is about charges arising from the awful death of a little girl at the New Year, when she was savaged to death by a dog. Like most people, I found the original reports really upsetting, especially as I have two granddaughters of my own.
What you will see from the report is that the CPS prosecutor is now taking ownership of the case as far as the media are concerned, and there is quite a lot of the first person singular when he refers to decisions taken.
CPS has a new policy of becoming visible to the media, and you can expect to see hitherto-anonymous CPS types sitting up there in the glare of the TV lights when some newsworthy case gets to the time of charge.
My only worry (and if I didn't believe in the criminal justice system explaining itself this blog would not exist) is that the media spotlight tends to corrupt everything that it shines on, and the last thing we need is celebrity prosecutors.
We must never lose sight of the need to bring the jury to the case with fresh minds unbiased by speculation and rumour. I am not, to be honest, optimistic about this development.

Here's what I meant :-
At a press conference Paul Whittaker, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Merseyside, said that the tragic case highlighted the "very real dangers these dogs present".

The announcement follows a long and deliberate assessment by prosecutors. In order to win a conviction for gross negligence manslaughter they need to prove that Mrs Simpson breached a duty of care towards her grandchild and that the breach caused her death.

The jury will be asked finally to consider whether that breach constituted a gross negligence.

Colin Davies, head of Merseyside's organised and complex crime section, and effectively the leading lawyer involved in the case, said he had been briefed at an early stage by the police. He said: "We have been working with officers from Merseyside Police on a number of preliminary legal issues both before and after the interviews of Kiel Simpson and Jackie Simpson.

"As this case has developed we have been carefully examining and assessing the evidence in order to come to a charging decision at the earliest posible opportunity.

"Having carefully considered all the material supplied by Merseyside Police, I made the decision that there was sufficient evidence and authorised that Kiel Simpson should be charged with the possession of a dangerous dog, namely a pit bull terrier, and Jackie Simpson with the manslaughter of Ellie Lawrenson and possession of a controlled drig, diamorphine.

"We will continue to keep this case under constant review as it develops".