Why was this “child sex gang leader” released from prison 17 years early?

The Secret Barrister

A quick one to start the week. I was asked about this last night, and rather hoped that it was obvious on its face that this tale has more to it than the headlines in the local press would have the reader believe. However some of the nationals are now this morning plugging the story of the “child sex gang leader released from prison 17 years early”, so a brief explainer might help.

The story started smouldering last Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions, when MP for Telford, Lucy Allan, raised the case in the House of Commons. And in fairness to Ms Allan, her primary concern, entirely properly, was that the victims of serious sexual offending did not appear to have been informed of the perpetrator’s release on licence and his impending return to the local area.

But the story has quickly become, certainly in the national media, another…

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New season of AJC’s Breakdown podcast covers the Devonia Inman case

New season of AJC’s Breakdown podcast covers the Devonia Inman case

INNOCENT

After finishing her shift and locking the premises up, restaurant manager Donna Brown walked across the car park to her car late one night carrying the day’s takings. Before she could get into the car, a masked assailant shot her in the face, took her money, took her car, and escaped.

Days later, with no physical evidence, no forensic evidence, no blood evidence and no fingerprints to tie him to the crime, police arrested and charged 20 year old Devonia Inman with the murder. To counter the lack of evidence the police produced three eye witnesses to the shooting – one of Brown’s colleagues, who saw the murder; Inman’s girlfriend’s sister, who said that he came back to their house that night covered in blood and with a sackful of money; and a prisoner who shared a cell with Inman after his arrest, to whom Inman admitted the murder. With…

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My cousin Vinny – or a model for how, in a better world, we could do things

suesspiciousminds

I’m going to take the unusual step of publishing a judgment in full, because, well, you will see why.  It is written by Mr Justice Peter Jackson, who I think is as absolutely good as it gets.   (there’s a short preamble that explains that this was a private law hearing, both parents representing themselves, and that the young person met with the Judge before the decision was made)

There’s a lot that is wrong with family law, and I write about that all of the time. And people write comments telling me other things that are wrong with family law, and sometimes they are right.  Family law hurts. If you have a decision in family law that doesn’t go your way, it hurts you, for a long long time – maybe even forever, and that’s genuinely an awful thing.  We forget that, sometimes. Or perhaps we have got good at…

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Guest Post by Simon Myerson Q.C.: An alternative proposal concerning sexual offences and consent

The Secret Barrister

In March 2017, Harriet Harman proposed a legislative amendment to section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, which would have the effect of prohibiting at criminal trials any questioning or evidence concerning the previous sexual behaviour of a complainant alleging a sexual offence. This week, Ms Harman reportedly confirmed that she was pursuing this amendment, and I provided my thoughts on why this is a dangerous and ill-thought out idea here

Back in March, criminal silk Simon Myerson Q.C. took the time to correspond with his MP, Anna Turley, over the planned amendment. He has very kindly permitted me to republish his note, in which he addresses the flaws in Harman’s Law, and offers his own proposal on how perceived shortcomings in the prosecution of sexual offences involving the issue of consent might be addressed. I understand that Anna Turley MP has yet to respond.

Simon…

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Discredited Offending Behaviour Programmes

Appeals Barrister

If you are a long-term prisoner and you want to be released more quickly, you will need to satisfy the Parole Board that your risk has been reduced. If you are a “lifer”, then if you want to be released at allyou will need to show that your risk has reduced. The usual means of showing the Parole Board that your risk has been reduced is by the completion of ‘accredited’ offending behaviour programmes (OBPs), run by the Prison Service on behalf of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). One of the most familiar OBPs is the sex offender treatment programme (SOTP)

I first encountered the SOTP whilst a pupil barrister. I was instructed to attend at a high security prison for a parole hearing. My lay client, serving a life term, was told that he needed to do the SOTP, but that he could not do it because he…

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In forgetting our fundamental principles of justice, The Trial’s fascinating run fell down at the last

The Secret Barrister

*SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen the end of The Trial: A Murder In The Family, don’t read on. Unless you’ve no intention of watching it, in which case do as you please.*

Last night, Channel 4’s The Trial: A Murder In The Family drew to a close. At the end of a five-day run showing edited highlights of the augmented reality trial of Simon Davis for the murder of his estranged wife Carla, the finale dragged us inside the emotional furnace of the jury room as the twelve jurors deliberated with a ferocity belying the academic nature of their task.

2835 The Trial: A Murder in the Family, Photograph by Channel 4

Despite the judge giving a majority direction – where instead of a unanimous verdict, a court can accept a verdict agreed by 10 of the 12 jurors – the factfinders remained aggressively deadlocked. Eight were unpersuaded of the…

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