Public Interest, Victim Disinterest
Oops, this post didn't post when I thought it did. Never mind, here it is anyway.
PS Delroy Smellie has been cleared of assault by a District Judge. Reading the DJ's comments, she clearly accepts that small snippets of CCTV do not always give an accurate picture, and finds the sergeant's evidence compelling.
I was also interested to see that Nicola Fisher, the victim, did not show up at the trial either to watch or give evidence. Apparently she was depressed. In the past couple of years, I've been called to court 15-20 times and in a good 50% of cases, the victim has not shown up. In 100% of those cases where the victim has not appeared, the case has been discontinued - not by the court but by the prosecution. That includes cases where the victim has been in hospital, in prison, just had a baby, and high risk domestic cases where she/he is just too scared to come. And one case where no one had told the victim the court date until the day before and she was abroad. The prosecution lawyer argues, well if we try to prosecute too many cases without a victim, the courts won't take us seriously when we really mean it.
Fair enough. However, in cases where the victim doesn't appear by their own choice, they are usually relieved when the case is dropped or defendant acquitted. They are not normally "very disappointed" and blame it all on police corruption (indirectly: "He is a police officer, she is a protestor..."). Ms Fisher had unrealistic expectations if she really thought the police officer would be convicted without her crucial victim evidence. Then again, reports I've read state she did not show up because she was worried her background - whatever it is - would be brought up on the stand.
Her background did not stop her selling her story to the tabloids for £26,000. Which in most trials would prompt the swift binning of the whole prosecution on the argument that nobody could possibly try it fairly.
As usual, a raft of Guardian commentators have denounced the acquittal as a sure sign of police corruption. When in actual fact, as with most cases reported in the media, unless you sit through the trial and have access to the same evidence as the judge/jury, you can never really make an informed decision.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.