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Bereavement due to traumatic death

The court case

All criminal cases start in the Magistrates' court. Serious offences, such as murder, are passed on to the Crown Court, to be dealt with by a judge and jury.
 
The Witness Care Unit now has the duty to make bereaved families aware of the trial date. Witness Care Units are partnerships between the police and the crown prosecution service (CPS). In practice it may be decided locally that they will inform the Family Liaison Officer working with the family, who will explain the timetable and key dates. The CPS victim focus scheme, now operating nationally, ensures that the CPS will offer a meeting with the family.
 
In the past, communication sometimes broke down. Sarah wasn’t aware of when sentencing would take place, so the whole family missed the court case when the man who caused the crash that killed her husband was charged and convicted.
 
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Sarah felt very angry at having missed the trial of the man involved in the crash.

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Age at interview: 62
Sex: Female
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One of the hardest things about it was the issue about the whole court proceedings, which the children were very desperate to go to, and because of lack of communication with the crown prosecution service we actually missed all of those [court proceedings].
 
The first time we were told he was summonsed and he didn’t turn up. And the judge at the time said, “I’m not prepared to go any further until he does turn up.” So the second time he did turn up, and said he’d changed his lawyer so he wanted an adjournment. And the third time they told us it would just be a charge and then you, you come back on a second occasion for sentencing. And the police had said to us, well the charge only takes five minutes, you turn up, they say, “you’re charged”, and the time for you to attend is to come the second time when its, when it’s sentencing. But what in actual fact happened, because by this stage he’d been three times, when he turned up they actually did the charge and the sentencing and everything, so we just got a phone call three days later saying, it’s all happened, it’s over and done with, and that’s what happened. And again, that was something that made us all very, very angry.
  
And what did he get [as a sentence], just a fine?
 
He just got a fine yes.
 
Didn’t you have a police family liaison officer?
 
We did yes. And to be absolutely fair to the police, they were equally angry about it because they too hadn’t had communication from the Crown Prosecution Service about it. It wasn’t entirely; it definitely wasn’t entirely the police fault. And in fact we had a family liaison officer, and then his sergeant, they came to the house and apologised actually, about it all. And I, I actually wrote a letter to the Chief Constable to say, look this family has had, is experiencing this traumatic situation which has been exacerbated by all this nonsense. 
 
Most people had attended the court case, though a few had decided not to go or could not do so. Susanna’s brother was killed in Bali. Some of those involved were tried in Indonesia but she could not pay the cost of travel to attend. Some people had other reasons for not attending a trial.
 

After Dorrie died two men were charged with owning the gun that killed him. Patsy thought that a...

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Age at interview: 61
Sex: Female
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Do you know what the coroner concluded?
 
No.
 
So was there a court case after that?
 
Yes there was a court case with two young men because they eventually found the gun from the house that the gun was in but they actually couldn’t place the young men at the scene, but they found the gun. So the court case went on that basis that they found the gun that shot him but not only that, that was used previously as well and they found, and two young men who they, apparently the gun belonged to. So there was a court case and they got I think it was 15 years and 10 years or something like that, I’m not sure.
 
So you didn’t attend the court case?
 
No I didn’t attend the court case either because for me it wasn’t going to bring my son back.
 
No.
 
Nothing was going to change that. What I heard was going to more upset me than anything else. I was living my life, I at the time, you know, had accepted that my son was dead and he was dead for a reason so I wasn’t looking, even though, you know, I mean whether they caught somebody or not wasn’t the most important thing to me because it wasn’t going to, whether they lock them up or not, you know, for me the thing that would have, if I was going to think of any kind of a justice, it would have been them dying as well, that would have been my justice, do you hear what I’m saying, but that was the justice I chose, do you hear my say. 
The trial in the Crown Court begins with a hearing where the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty. If the plea is ‘not guilty’ the trial will be held later. After the evidence has been presented a jury must reach a verdict before the judge can pass sentence. Sentencing may take place on another occasion.
 
If the defendant pleads ‘guilty’ the trial may be over very quickly. The judge may pass sentence straight away. A few people had been surprised that the case was so short. Jayne travelled back from Italy for Jonathan’s court case. She wanted to represent Jonathan, and she hoped she would get his personal belongings back at the end of the case. She explained that Jonathan’s murder had been a huge event in her life and she had expected a longer trial. When she saw that the defendant was mentally ill, she realised that he was very vulnerable person so she didn't feel angry as she'd feared she would.
 

Jayne wasn’t prepared for such a short trial. The man pleaded guilty on the grounds of diminished...

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Age at interview: 44
Sex: Female
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What I wasn’t prepared for was how short it was going to be. I think you have this expectation that because something enormous has happened in your life, that’s an enormous, there’s going to be some enormous trial and event and, but because the offender obviously was very ill and he’d been in hospital since he’d stabbed Jon, you know and he pleaded guilty on the grounds of diminished responsibility, there wasn’t really anything to try.
 
You know? The only thing that had to be decided in court was whether they’d send him to prison or whether they send him back to hospital, and they had an expert, a psychiatric expert give evidence, but it was over in about an hour, you know it was just in and out. You know?
 
But one of the things that I suppose I remember very clearly about it was seeing the offender for the first time. You know and I had this fear that, I had this fear because I’d been driven so much by keeping my memory of Jon very close to me and how much we felt for each other, so there was an enormous amount of love for each other, I, I was very afraid of seeing the offender because I thought well if I see him, I’m going to be overwhelmed by feelings of hatred and anger towards him, and yes, just, you know, hatefulness really, I don’t know how to describe, I was just really, really afraid of anger taking over, and, but when I saw him, he was, he was very, very vulnerable, all I saw was somebody who was very, very vulnerable, so it didn’t have the impact on me that I was afraid it was going to have. I was able to walk out of that court with the same strength I had about Jon as when I walked in, but he wasn’t a witness, he wasn’t an offender who showed no remorse, he wasn’t, because some of the families that I know they go into court and you know the offenders are shouting out, that it was justifiable homicide, or they show no remorse, or they’re laughing, or they this or they that. I wasn’t confronted with any of that.  
 

Dolores had only one day in court. The man who killed her son had schizophrenia and pleaded...

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Age at interview: 54
Sex: Female
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So was there an inquest or a court case?
 
Well the problem was that it took about a year before they realised that that all the court appearances [pre-hearings] were leading to nothing. He was not a person we could trust. And one minute he was perfectly all right, the next he would be everywhere. So it ended up just being one day in court in the end. After many, many appearances in court where you… they were trying to establish whether he was fit to be in court. So it was just one day in the end. I had my day in court.
 
So did you go to any of the other hearings?
 
No. His girlfriend went, Tom’s girlfriend.
 
And what were they doing at those?
 
They’re just interviewing him.
 
Questioning?
 
And they didn’t get anywhere. The judge gave, gave him so many chances. But after all he’s a sick man [crying].
 
So nobody ever had to give any, any evidence in the end, did anyone give any?
 
No. No.
 
So what happened at the one day in court that you went to?
 
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was just reading what someone else gave him. With diminished responsibility.
 
Oh.
 
And that was that.  
 
So nobody was called to give evidence or anything?
 
No. There was the statement from the defence and the statement from the prosecution. And that was that.
 

Marcus was surprised that the case at the Old Bailey was over so quickly. The man, who murdered...

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Age at interview: 38
Sex: Male
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What happened, the guy who did this was obviously arrested on the same night. And we went to a magistrate’s court where the charge was read out. I was also in court that day to witness this. The charge was read out, and he admitted to the charge. And then the case was put back to a trial at the Old Bailey; most murders within the London and central London area are committed to the Old Bailey.
 
Do you want to say a little bit about the trial and your time in court …

 

Yes. Yes sure. It, it seems ironic looking back for me now because the trial was committed to the Old Bailey in November and it was Friday the 13th . It was Court 13 and everything in that day was like a 13. And it just feels very strange when I look back on, on that time. And I was told prior to going in, into the Old Bailey that it could be quite a quick trial, which annoyed me because I really wanted to … I wanted to be part of the process. And I wanted to ask some questions. But in those days it’s never … it never was allowed.

 

And to this day it, it goes down as one of the quickest trials of the Old Bailey in history. I think we’re in the there for about eighteen minutes, seventeen or eighteen minutes. The trial… … the charge was read out. And the person admitted to murder instantly. We were told to sit down. And then as the detective at the time said, “The story was read out”. In other words, the evidence was read out.

 

Which is the story of what happened on that fateful night. And the judge without even … he didn’t … I think at the time they allowed some … his barrister to say something. And then in the end, he said, “Right that’s it, sit down”. The guy got up in the dock and he committed him to life imprisonment.

 

And within seconds after that he banged his gravel and “Take him down”. And that was the last I ever saw of him.  
Some cases came to court only after long delays. After Steph died Martin had to wait a year for the trial. However, when the time came he was well prepared for what might happen and he was warned that the case might collapse.
 
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Martin met the CPS prosecutor before the trial and was shown the court. He was warned that it...

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Age at interview: 43
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Were you prepared for the court case in any way? Did they take you to the court?
 
Yes, we had a meeting with the CPS first, that was with all the family involved. We were told in, in as much detail as they could tell us that they thought it was unlikely it was going to be successful. And they said they would do their best, but its, but it was actually finding out where the “dangerous” was in the charge “death by dangerous driving”. It’s where actually the “dangerous” was, despite the fact he’s killed my wife, he’s gone onto the wrong side of the road and killed her with no explanation. Proving it proved to be exceptionally difficult as things turned out. So we were prepared for that. I was given a tour of the courtroom, it’s a big old Victorian courtroom in another town, just to get a feel of the place, the size of the building, because I’ve never been in a courtroom myself, just to, the smell of it, everything, just the feel of the seats, and just, just things like that so we were, I was I was prepared for it yes, I was prepared for it.
 
And what was it like actually sitting there during the court case?
 
I just wanted to, all I was thinking about was visualising the final day, when a member of the jury would stand up and say guilty or not guilty.
 
That’s all I kept thinking about for months, that, that moment, as it transpired it never even got that far, the court case had collapsed after four days, but you felt very removed from everything, even though the man who’d killed my wife was sat just below me in his little thing he has to sit in, it didn’t really register with me.
 
Did he ever say he was sorry?
 
No. No. He never said a thing in the court.
Sometimes further delays occurred during the trial. For example, when the woman who killed Carole’s son was tried for murder, a re-trial was necessary because one juror failed to appear on the second day and was found to have ‘special needs’. David’s family also had to wait for a re-trial but this was because David’s other son met one of the defendants at the court door and chased him down the street. The police had to be called and the trial was postponed.
 
Although some people felt well prepared for the trial, others didn't and were shocked or surprised to hear certain details about the case. Some relatives saw objects, such as murder weapons, or CCTV images they had not expected to see. Julie described what happened when her sister’s ex-partner was tried for murder.
 
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Julie knew her sister had been stabbed to death but until the trial she thought that Shirley had...

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Age at interview: 38
Sex: Female
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And we’d been told from the beginning that he’s stabbed her once in a carotid artery. And actually it turned out that he’d stabbed her once in a carotid artery, but he’s actually stabbed her a few other places as well.
 
I think it turned out she had about thirteen… I could be wrong… it might not be as many as that… wounds. It looked like he’d been holding the knife towards her and he stuck the knife in a few places. And this particular day [in court], they were talking about the fact that she’d actually sat after he’d stabbed her. She’d managed to get off the sofa. But she must have sat there for a while. And then she collapsed on the floor. And his auntie she were crying, she was still crying outside and she was saying, “It was awful, it was really awful. I can’t believe he did that to her.”
 
He pleaded not guilty.
 
He pleaded not guilty. He, he said… he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but not guilty to murder. He said she’d provoked him.
 
She’d made him do it. She’d gone for him first. She was… according to him she was sat on the sofa peeling potatoes and they’d had a row. And she’d gone for him with a knife. And he said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I just saw red and took the knife off her and stabbed her once and then she were dead.” But then he went out and bought some heroin and took a heroin overdose and lay down beside my sister. But that’s him that wasn’t thinking straight. And then like I said in court it came out that he’d stabbed her more than once. And they’d actually done some, some sort of test on her hands to see if she had been peeling potatoes. And they said, no, the only fingerprints that were on the knife were his. There was no starch on my sister. There was no starch on the knife. They just… even the judge in his summing up said, “You’ve just told us one pack of lies after another to save your own skin.” He said, “At the end of day an eleven year old child is without his mother and a newborn baby was never born because you’ve taken the mother away.”
 
And so did the jury find him guilty?
 
Yes within a couple of hours. I think it was probably about three hours. They found him guilty of murder. And he got fourteen and, fourteen years so many days because he’d done so long on remand.  
People described what happened when they got to court. Some found the court a cold place- one woman said that it had “no soul”, a place without emotion or love. Another found going to court stressful, she had to hang around for hours and no one told her what was going on. Some had hated sitting near the defendant’s family and friends. Michelle said that the court was a scary place but she wanted to go to court to see the person who had murdered her mother.   
 
Stephen’s brother had been killed by a drunk driver. He was prepared to give evidence in court but didn't have to because the defendant pleaded guilty. The case took only 10-15 minutes. Stephen was worried about possible friction between his family and the defendant’s family, and was glad to find that the families were kept apart. However, other aspects of the trial disappointed him.
 

Stephen’s brother was killed as he was crossing the road. Seeing the defendant joking with...

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Age at interview: 49
Sex: Male
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Do you mind saying a little bit more about actually, the court case?
 
It was… it was really something that we’d never experienced before and we didn’t know what to expect. I was a little bit worried in case there was a bit of trouble flaring up and we got into trouble. I mean, you hear of these two families meeting and…
 
…a bit of friction but we were kept rooms apart, you know, one end room and we was at the other end of the room. What did annoy us a little bit was, just before we were going in the drink driver was laughing and joking with all his friends and…
 
How awful.
 
…in the lobby and, you know, I thought, “Well, that’s not the sign of somebody who’s remorseful or…
 
 
Who had to give evidence in court? Did many people have to give evidence?
 
No. I was videotaped by the police to, if there was any reason I couldn’t go to court, due to hospital appointments, then they videoed my interview. And apparently it’s only to be used if he pleaded not guilty.
 
Did they do the interview at home?
 
Yes, they came to my house, because I was still quite immobile.
 
So did you have to give evidence in court, then?
 
No.
 
No.
 
No. There was, there was nobody to give evidence. I mean, it was just because he…
 
He pleaded guilty in the end.
 
He was pleading guilty. His solicitor just was trying to tell the court what a good boy he was, and about not being in trouble with the law before and a steady worker and a good honest lad. No there was hardly any mention of what we went through.
 
Did you, did anybody make an impact statement?
 
They, they took some of the statements from my videotape and read it out but the judge kind of says, “I know, I’ve read it”, which was a little bit disheartening really. And basically all that happened in the end was, the events were read out in court, about his drink driving, his speed, not looking where he was going, because at the time when he hit us he was actually looking down for a CD in his car. And as soon as all that was out he, the judge sentenced him. So it was over in a matter of 10, 15 minutes.
 
Oh, really?
 
Hmhm. It was quite quick.
 
Were you expecting something different?
 
I was, to be honest. It’s, it’s not something selfish but I wanted them all to know what we went through.
 
Not just to be read out on paper. You know, anybody could read a story, but I wanted them to see what we have gone through.
 
I mean, at the time we didn’t care what they’ve gone through.
 
No.
 
They were the perpetrators of this and we were the victims. But like in most cases it’s all about the, the perpetrating act, gets all the talk about in courts, you know. We’re just there in the sidelines just waiting to be asked. But we didn’t get asked.
 
Was any other member of the family allowed to make an impact statement?
 
No.
 
Some families had worse experiences in court. Julie was furious when the defendant’s girlfriend waited for the judge to leave the court and then shouted comments across the room to the defendant. David and his family attended the initial court hearing and arrived to find barristers and solicitors joking and laughing, which was also upsetting. David felt that this showed a lack of respect for their dead son.

Linda and her family found themselves sitting very near the two defendants’ families, and had to put up with intimidating stares. They also had to listen while a defendant’s barrister portrayed Linda’s son as a bully with steroids and cannabis in his blood stream. The results of two blood tests had been muddled up which led to unfair accusations, which were later shown to be untrue.
 
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The trial took place a year after Kevin's death and lasted for over two weeks. Linda said it was...

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Age at interview: 52
Sex: Female
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There’s no soul, there’s no emotion, there’s no love, there’s no nothing that comes out of Crown Courts. And the judges as well. The judges are there to do a job, they’re not there to get emotionally involved, if they were they’d be taking sides.
 
So they’re, they’re quite distant if you like and they’re there just to hear the facts. And I think you have to take that on board that, that the trial is not a happy time at all.
 
No.
 
It’s not a happy place to be. It’s not a happy environment. And you’re in limbo really when it, when it comes to a death where there’s going to be a trial. You’re in limbo for that year because you can’t move on.
 
Do you mid saying a bit about the court case now?
 
Yes, the court case was horrific from start to finish. It’s a day thing that you have to do. His trial went on for two and a half weeks. A court is a horrible place to have to go. It’s cold. You have lots of other people there in, in different courtrooms for different reasons. The whole, the whole thing is just negative. There’s not one positive that come out of it. When you’re there, we had a family room so we were very lucky with our family liaison officer and a police officer, that we had a room where we could go to... away from his family. Because they, there was actually two up on trial, one was for murder and there was another person who was up for accessory for murder. So, at the beginning there were two people.
 
Connected with your son?
 
Connected with my son. And in, in the trial one was found not guilty to all charges and walked. But obviously his family were there at the time and, and then the person that killed my son, his family were there. And because he [the defendant] had lied so much about the course of events that led to my son’s death they had obviously, because it was their son, just got totally embroiled in what he’d said and totally believed him, even when he was found guilty and the judge said that, you know, he’d planned this all along, he knew exactly what he was doing. Even now they’re still very much that, you know, it was an accident and my son came towards him and it was because my son came towards him in a threatening manner that he felt out of fear he had to stab him.
 
So we had to have the whole thing, where we were in the public gallery with them. And the public galleries are small. And you just have a walkway between two families.
 
How awful.
 
And you have the intimidation, the stares, and everything that goes on with a trial really. And you have to be so strong not to, and you have to be so strong, or we had to for Kevin because we knew that it was vital that the jury heard the truth and the facts.
 
And then of course you have to listen to the defence, just knocking your son down. And trying to discredit him and make him out to be a liar and somebody that he’s not.
 
How awful.
 
To say somebody who’s lying and you have to sit through two and a half weeks knowing that that person’s lying through his teeth.
 
How terrible.
 
And at one stage because we were sitting where the witness stand is I was feet, feet from him.
 
I mean, what was the verdict in the end?
 
The verdict was, was unanimous and it was very, very quick. And considering that they had to do it on two people, for accessory to murder and murder, it was very, very quick and I suppose if you divided that in half it must have taken them two hours, a minimum, just two hours to convict. Because like I say, all along they’d made their minds up.
 
And it was guilty.
 
Of murder?
 
Of murder. But the other one was not guilty. He was up on three charges: affray, accessory to murder, and the third one, he walked free. But, to be fair, he turned it round to be on our side.
 
So were you satisfied with the verdict?
 
I was satisfied, yeah.
 
Yes.
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge, or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence. There isn’t an official ‘plea bargaining’ system as such in the UK. However, bereaved relatives may feel angry if they think that a criminal is getting away with a crime because of a deal made with the prosecutor.
 
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The trial was very stressful. Two men were convicted of grievous bodily harm and one of murder....

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Age at interview: 43
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We got to the Crown Courts for the first day and I had to, I was sat in a separate room with my mother, and then went into the actual court and it’s just lots of hanging around. It’s so stressful. You’re just hanging around for hours. No-one tells you what’s going on. And then they said, “A few witnesses here, we’re going to have to adjourn today and go home.” That was after being there for about six hours. So we went home. And I started to get a bit of a bad feeling to be honest that something wasn’t right. I got back the second day and they said that the expert witness for the younger male had pulled out of giving evidence. He was trying to get off on the grounds that he had  ADHD and she’d said, “Oh yes,” and then I think she’d, at the end she’d decided that no it wasn’t an excuse for his behaviour.
 
Then they called me and my ex-partner in and said, “Oh the bad news is that the, we’ve done some plea bargaining and the elder two, the 27 and a 35 year old are going to we’re not going to charge them with murder. We’re going to charge them with Grievous Bodily Harm.” I just couldn’t believe it.
 
And the other one has pleaded guilty.
 
To murder?
 
To murder. He took the rap for the other two. Without a shadow of a doubt. I went ballistic, at the CPS. But they just, it’s like they’ve just got no heart.
 
So they, they…
 
They, it’s just so clinical.
 
...did they discuss it with you at all?
 
Oh, no, oh no, not at all. You get to know nothing. No decisions, they just called us in and said, “This is what we’re doing.” And it’s like it or lump it. So we then went back in, all the jury were there and the judge got up and said there’s a decision been made, the elder two, he named them, they were there, are not guilty of murder and they are to be done for Grievous Bodily Harm. And then the youngest lad he said, who’s, who’s, who’s 18 today like it was, you know, let’s all wish him happy birthday, has pleaded guilty to murder. Well, well done for pleading guilty. Oh it was just, it was a joke.
 
So the other two got four years. And they were out in 18 months. Well that’s another tale. And the other lad got 12 years minimum.
 
You said you had to be a witness. Were you called as a witness?
 
None of us were, nobody was because they made the decision without even consulting us. Never spoke, and what they did to my mother, the judge said we’ll leave it to lie on file. So my, my mother was no longer classed as a victim. The fact that she’d been battered, they said, because they’d pleaded guilty to Grievous Bodily Harm and to murder we’re not going to charge them with what, what they’ve done to you. My mum was devastated by that. It was, I was just really disappointed. So I appealed.
 
And how do you go about doing an appeal?
 
Well, that information I’d got from SAMM. So it was, it was so good that they’d been to see me because I would never have known about that. And I appealed to Goldsmith, Lord Goldsmith. I went through my MP who was absolutely fantastic.
 
I rang his office and asked if I could make an appointment to see him. I went with my ex-partner, Ben’s dad, and we sat there and he was furious. He said, it’s, all the papers said it was a joke, the trial. There, there was lots of ba
Others felt that it was unfair that witnesses could give glowing references for defendants in court but were not allowed to praise the person who had died. They felt that there was an imbalance in favour of the accused and against the bereaved. People were also angry about acquittals or the length of the sentences given to those found guilty.
 
In the UK, people found guilty of a criminal offence may be given a determinate sentence, where the sentence has a defined length, or an indeterminate sentence (such as a life sentence) where the offender will be released only after serving a minimum prison term. After that, their release is decided by a body such as the Parole Board.
 
Murder is distinguished from manslaughter simply on the basis of what was intended. If the attacker intended death or serious injury the offence is murder, if the attacker did not intend death or serious injury (even if the attack itself was intentional) the offence is manslaughter. If a person is found guilty of murder, the judge must impose a mandatory life sentence. The offender must serve a minimum period in prison, which the judge sets and announces in court. He or she will only be released if the Parole Board agrees. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life. However, the sentence can be significantly less, depending on the circumstances of the case.
 

Adam was upset that no one was allowed to give his brother, Lloyd, a character reference in court...

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Age at interview: 22
Sex: Male
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Witnesses, we had a couple of people take the stand, and another thing about the fair trial and everything, the defendants were allowed the character references, character, sort of people to stand up and say, “Oh he was a lovely boy, he used to come and baby-sit for me, we lived next door to each other, he used to mow my lawn.” But we weren’t allowed any of that for Lloyd, it was like Lloyd wasn’t, Lloyd wasn’t there to defend himself. Nobody could see what sort of person he was, they couldn’t say, nobody could stand up and say he was a lovely person, wouldn’t, wouldn’t hurt a fly, and they couldn’t know anything about him, yet they would allow somebody who is the defendant's next door neighbour, who knows the parents therefore is either going to make up an excuse for him, and say how lovely he is, or the parents probably threatened them that if they say anything horrible on the stand, they’ll get ‘em, because they’re those sort of families, you know the sort of, they come from the background, from the typical families that are violent.
 
 
Did the police liaison officers prepare you at all for what was going to happen?
 
They did, yes, we got to go down, they allowed us to go down and see the court, and see what it was going to be like, where we were going to be sat, and they talked us through everything, and anything we didn’t understand whilst we were in court. Our prosecution lawyer, the prosecution barrister we had, he always came and spoke to us, at the end of the day to explain exactly what had gone on, and if we had any questions. So I mean you can’t fault any of them, they were really, really good, the police, the courts, I mean unfortunately the justice system sucks, so obviously they, I mean they, they’re, the verdict was; one was found innocent, two were found guilty, and obviously of murder so that’s an automatic life sentence, but they only have to serve 13 years, because you’re given a, a length of time that you have to serve, and then after that you’re eligible for parole. And they were given 13 years, one was 12, one was 13. So not very long, considering they’ve taken a life at the age of 17, and they’re going be out when they’re in their thirties. 
 
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Ann was angry that the man who killed her son will serve only 15 years before he can apply for...

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Age at interview: 57
Sex: Male
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Yes, these brothers were charged jointly with Westley’s murder. Sadly the one that had caused the whole thing to unfold in the first place, the brother that had unreasonably tried to push in front of Westley, we subsequently came to realise that they had both been involved in violence, in carrying knives, and probably now they both would have been found guilty of murder. But as it happened the one that caused the whole thing was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter, and is due to be released in March of 2009. That’s very hard for me and the rest of the family. I’ve tried very much to protect Westley’s brother and sister from that knowledge or from the awareness too much of that situation because Westley’s sister’s birthday is in March, I will probably have to speak to them nearer the time, because I don’t know how much of it will be reported in the papers. When the actual appeal, the last appeal went ahead earlier this year because the appeal was being heard in London, and it wasn’t common knowledge, I didn’t think for one moment that it would be reported in the local papers, and it was splashed all over the papers so once again you know, as much as I try and protect the family, invariably it creeps up to bite you somewhere.
 
What happened to the other one, was he charged with…?
 
The other one was found guilty of murder. But he was given a life sentence, but that life sentence means that he will serve 15 years before he can apply for parole. Now, he had previous history of violence. Why has he only got a tariff of 15 years, a starting tariff effectively, under the present rules through the criminal justice act of 2003, that is the starting tariff for a life sentence for someone over 18 years of age.
 
That’s the minimum?
 
That’s the minimum. Now if they had shot my son they would probably have, or he rather, the one that was found guilty of murder, would’ve probably got 20 to 25.
 
Why does it make a difference?
 
Well exactly, why does it make a difference? And that’s been the main reason why, where I started out with the campaign, and that is a) to raise the awareness of the fact that if you stab somebody in the chest or in the neck the likelihood is that person will die, and therefore  that’s  almost an act of execution. That person hasn’t set out to harm the person; they’ve set out to most probably kill the person.
 
And in those circumstances, with a history of violence and a history of carrying knives, knife crime if you like, knife based murder and a murder to a gun should be a comparable life sentence. Now from the original campaign, of asking the government to deal with knife crime and gun crime in a similar sense, we have actually on the lower end, people that are found to be carrying a knife or a gun got close to the sentences that can be imposed, but invariably they’re not being imposed. But in terms of murder and manslaughter, they are still very far apart on  the actual life sentences, tariffs that are given.  
In 1965 the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act suspended the death penalty for murder in the United Kingdom for 5 years. In December 1969, the House of Commons reaffirmed its decision that capital punishment for murder should be permanently abolished. However, many countries still execute those convicted of murder. Some family members felt that defendants had been given relatively light sentences but very few wanted a return to capital punishment, even when recently bereaved. Some of the relatives of those involved in the Bali bombing opposed the death penalty, which applied in Bali where the case was heard.
 
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The people who were executed after the Bali bomb of 2002 were not the main perpetrators. Matthew...

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Age at interview: 48
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Do you want to say a little bit about the court case and what’s happened since then?
 
Well several of the people who were proven to be behind the bombings have been captured. I think some of those have been executed. The main people behind the bombings haven’t been captured. One is in Guantanamo Bay being held by the Americans. Members of the families who have suffered from the Bali bombings that I’ve spoken to have variously said that they can’t wait until the bombers or those responsible have been eradicated. I don’t take that view. I don’t think it helps anybody to be vengeful. I don’t believe in the death penalty and I think while a lot of people I can understand want to get their own back and want to see justice done and they will see it, I’m, I’d far rather  a different kind of justice was carried out and that is that if somebody has committed an awful crime in the way that they have, that they should live to experience the effects of that crime. They shouldn’t be given the easy way out with a bullet through the heart which is what happened to three or four of them. But the people that have been executed were the people that played the bit roles, they’re not the, they’re not the real perpetrators.
 
The what roles?
 
They’ve only done little bits and pieces.
 
Oh yes.
 
You know they, they’ve bought a van, to put the explosives in, they provided shelter for the bombers, now these are the people that have been arrested and found guilty and things like that. But the real, the real perpetrators are still at large, two or three of them are. One of them who isn’t at large is in American custody, so I think it’s good that justice can be seen to be done, but I think, and this relates to events such as this where they occur overseas, but you have to accept that when you go abroad, when you go to other places, in the same way that you have to abide by the rules then so do the people that live there. And if rules in somewhere like Indonesia says that okay well we, we’ll pardon you in twelve months and even though you might have killed 202 people, you’re allowed to walk free because that’s how the system works, you just have to accept that. You have to respect the judicial system wherever you happen to be, and if you don’t want to go to somewhere where you don’t like the judicial system don’t go there.
 
It’s that kind of thing. But I don’t think that the people involved in the bombings have been executed helps in the least. It certainly doesn’t help me. I think it’s a purely personal belief but I don’t believe in capital punishment anyway, so I think that, you know, there’s been more bloodshed split in my brothers name as far as I’m concerned, and I think that’s a retrograde kind of step. But I know, I know that there are people that were baying for blood, and have got it. And that’s going to enable them to sort of move on, I think, possibly not, because they’ll move on to the next gripe.

Last reviewed October 2015.

Last updated October 2011.

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