2 pints of Family Law and 2 packets of Judges

Sir J Munby, President of the High Court’s Family Division, has said that there is a need to move away from judges holding hearings in a “palais de justice, sitting on an enormous throne”. He has also stated that courtrooms in the future, must be provided “where we need them” and pop-up courts could be held in buildings such as pubs or town halls.

F. Gibbs, legal editor for The Times, told of how Sir Munby suggested that litigants could even participate in Power of Attorney matters with online video links “from their kitchen tables”.

In March this year, Sir Munby even claimed that divorces will take place over mobile phones or laptops from next year (2017), with an online system meaning neither husband, wife nor the judge will need to be in a courtroom.
He said the click-for-divorce process was a “vision not of some distant future but what has to be”, and that the court system would no longer be “moored in the world if the late Mr Charles Dickens”.

A couple who agree to divorce will be able to answer online questionnaires about their marital history, wealth and income as well as arrangements made for their children. The online divorce costs around £400, saving a couple thousands of pounds in legal fees.

Click-for-divorce is all well and good if the couple amicably agree to divorce, but what about the cases where a spouse is being stubborn and making an amicable divorce impossible?
And what’s stopping a claimant getting pissed before their case is heard if we do have ‘courts’ held in pubs?

I know life evolves and so must the law but a court should be held in a building purposefully made for those matters, not in the local boozer with the local drunk watching over proceedings.

Family matters should be heard in private, I fail to understand why a family case would be held in a public place, it isn’t in the public’s interest to hear if A is divorcing B because they have cheated on them with C and now A has an STD as a result of B’s infidelity. All it will do is cause public humiliation for all parties involved.

Sorry but I have to say I’m out on this one!

The inquest of Alice Gross

Alice gross was 14 years-old when she was found buried in the river in Hanwell, West London, in September 2014, 7 weeks after she was reported missing.

The inquest into her death was held on the 27th of June 2016 and the court was informed of how the schoolgirl was found with above-normal traces of GHB after what is believed to have been a ‘serious sexual assault’ by her suspected killer, Arnis Zalkalns, a convicted murderer from Latvia.

Zalkalns, who arrived in Britain in 2007, had killed his wife 10 years earlier but slipped under the authorities radar due to EU Laws.As an EU national, he had gone under no background checks- meaning he was completely unknown to the British authorities. He was also arrested in 2009 on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 14 year-old girl just 2 miles away from where Alice was killed. The case was dropped after the alleged victim refused to make a statement.

Alice’s body was badly decomposed when it was found in the slit of the river bed, wrapped in bin liners from Zalkalns’ work-place and weighed down with a bicycle wheel and bricks. Logs about 1m in length- and piled above the towpath from where the council had cleared the undergrowth- had also been rolled into the river and stocked in a pyramid shape above Alice’s body.

Zalkalns’ returned to the scene at least 3 times in the days of Alice’s death and it was stated in court that the police cordon may have precipitated his suicide- he was found hanged from a tree in Boston Manor Park, Hounslow,  4 days later.

So no background checks were done on someone entering Britain and because he was an EU national he was free to come and go as he pleased. Thank god we voted out of the EU, I know it is too later to remedy justice for Alice but hopefully we will be able to put measures in place to make our country a safer environment for British nationals.

Too fat for court?

Regular readers of my blog will know how infuriated I get by the sheer laziness of people who claim they are ‘too fat’ for work etc, well now the excuse of being ‘too fat’ has extended to attending court.

Forklift truck driver weighing 34-stone refuses to turn up to drink driving sentencing because he’s ‘so fat he’s technically disabled’ (Daily Mail)

J. Wiech argued that his bulging belly counted as a disability which would spare him the trouble if answering the summons. He was due to appear before Magistrates in York after he was found slumped over his car steering wheel having downed 4 beers and a bottle of vodka. A breath test showed 68 micrograms of alcohol in his system- the legal limit is 35.
A warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to turn up to court on the 6th of June (2016) and was brought back to court under police guard.

Wiech, who speaks limited English, explained to the duty solicitor he had ‘mobility problems’ caused by his size, however, when the excuse was delivered to the bench, District Judge A. Lower, stated that this ‘was not an excuse’, also stating that Wiech could have covered the 15 miles journey by train or taxi, or both. The case was then adjourned again because a Polish interpreter was needed.
Under strict instructions to attend his trial, Wiech wheezed his way across the road from the bus stop opposite the court house.

On the day of the incident, Wiech had been found slumped over the steering wheel of his car parked outside the local village store by a passer by. His keys were found on the floor of the vehicle and he told police that he had downed 4 pints of beer and a glass of whickey after finishing his night shift. However, he had stopped drinking at 9am and did not drive until 2pm when he needed to visit the shop.

While parked outside the shop, he claims he had an argument with his ex wife over the phone and downed a ‘small’ bottle of vodka before dozing off. the next thing he remembered was being roused from his stupor by police.
He denied drink driving but admitted to a lesser charge of drunk in charge of a vehicle. He also admitted to failing to attend court and to having no insurance.

Wiech was fined £325 plus £85 court costs and a £30 surcharge. His licence was endorsed with 10 penalty points but he escaped a ban.
He was also told by District Judge D. Golding that he would not “get the same chance” if he appeared before them again.

I’m sorry but he should have been banned in my opinion. There is no excuse for failing to attend court because you’re fat and there is certainly no excuse for drinking whilst being in charge of a vehicle. The law needs to be tougher on people like this because all it shows is that an offender will get is a slap on the wrist if they break the law.

Hot hatch death race

I absolutely despise dangerous drivers. Driving is frustrating enough without idiots driving around like they’re on GTA and causing accidents and heartbreak for families. Not to mention the impact that racing around has on insurance premiums when there is an accident caused by someone driving dangerously. So you can imagine my delight when I read about two “boy racers”, racing their “hot hatches” on the dual carriageway of the A1.

Mohammed Abdul-Wahid, 32, was driving a high performance VW Golf R32 when he raced stranger, Ryan at speeds of more than 120mph. Ryan, 23, was driving a Honda Civic Type-R when he ended up on the same section of the carriageway as Abdul-Wahid. 

Prosecutors told the court that the pair had began racing each other at high speed in the early hours of the morning (4:30am to be exact) as they headed south on the A1 near Bowes Incline. Ryan lost control of his car and crashed, suffering major injuries, however, nothing could be done to save him. Witnesses also told the court that Abdul-Wahid went to overtake Ryan but had not been able to and the two cars ended up side by side, doing up to 124mph. 

Abdul-Wahid, who was on bail, was remanded in custody and was warned by Judge P Sloan QC that he faces a substantial prison sentence. Sentencing is adjourned until the 29th of July (2016). 

Now it’s all well and good having a high performance car to show off to your mates but it is pointless having it if you can’t handle the power it puts out. How many accidents are caused on Britains roads each year by dangerous drivers? Too many in my opinion. 

I mean giving a 23 year-old a Honda Civic Type-R, capable of 146mph, is just screaming for a fatality but Abdul-Wahid is 32, he should know better than to be racing around like he is part of Fast and the Furious. Then again he had a Golf, and I have noticed that the majority of Golf drivers have zero common sense and shit driving skills… But what was racing actually going to achieve? There are no prizes for breaking the speed limit, there are no medals for being reckless behind the wheel of a car. The only outcome is exactly what has happened. Let’s just hope his sentence is satisfactory to his crime and not just a cushy few weeks in prison. 

Justice for Liam: Part II

A while ago I wrote a post about Nyomi and Rachael Fee ,[Click here for related post] the two women who had been charged with murdering Rachael’s son Liam and also for abusing other children.

They have now had their trial, which lasted seven weeks, and the jury, who deliberated for ten hours, found them guilty of murder, plus seven other charges of abuse against Liam. The women were also found guilty of four counts of abuse against two other children.

Liam suffered a ruptured heart as a result of severe blunt force trauma to his body as well as a catalogue of injuries spanning over two years- including a broken leg and fractured arm.
The women were also found guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice after Liam died by trying to pin the blame for the death on one of the other young boys.

Sources report that the jurors were warned about the severity of the images they would be exposed to. Twelve minutes later a juror raised their hand to request a break in proceedings due to the images reducing some jurors to tears.
People in the public gallery were also warned by prosecutors that they may wish to leave the court room while the images were being shown.
Due to the sensitivities surrounding the boys’ age and nature of the evidence, the public were prevented from seeing the video which was recorded by detectives after Liams’ death. Only the media were allowed access to the court room during that time.

Their sentence has been dated for the 6th of July (2016), according to the BBC News website. Let’s hope they get life eh?

It poses the question of what social services were doing about the abuse. I mean surely they were involved with the women? So shouldn’t they have noticed that something wasn’t right? And if they did catch on to any abuse, why weren’t the children removed before the abuse got worse? If the social worker(s) had actually spent more time on this case rather than pissing about with cases which don’t need attention, maybe Liam would still be alive?  But we can’t blame the incompetence of social workers now can we?

Failure in justice

“Psycho knifeman forced two women to stage lesbian sex show on living room carpet in front of a toddler before repeatedly stabbing them when they refused to let him join in.” 

The above heading caught my attention on the DM’s website, I read the article, wondering how long the ‘psycho’ was sentenced to… I was appalled! The bloody English Legal System is a freaking joke!

M. Zahran, 38, ordered the two women to strip naked at knife-point and lie on top of each other  while pretending to film them on his phone.
The two friends sobbed as they were forced to touch and kiss each other- while the daughter of one of the women watched, thinking it was only a game.

Zahran then wanted ‘his turn’ to have sex, but when the child’s mother said no, he repeatedly knifed both women.
The mother’s injured friend managed to get out of the house and run naked into the street, screaming for the neighbours to phone the police.
Upon bursting into the house, the police discovered Zahran had stabbed himself in the stomach.

Zahran admitted two charges of inflicting grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent. He denied two offences of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent, sexual assault and false imprisonment, however the jury found him guilty.

Judge S Philips QC sentenced Zahran to 16 years in prison, as well as being told he had to serve an extended 5 years on licence recall after his release and will be on the sex offenders register for life.

How the hell does his crimes only warrant 16 years?! The justice system could save a lot of public money if they just bring back the death penalty for serious offenders. I mean, we all know that a length of rope is cheaper than keeping a criminal for the duration of their life… Plus rope can be reused and the defendant wouldn’t be able to re-offend.  Everyone’s a winner, so to speak.

Justice? At last

In 1997, Trevor Thompson attacked a 15 year-old schoolgirl in his car after offering her and her friend a lift before driving her to a secluded location.
His victim hit and tried to push him away but he held her hands and arms then reaped her despite her protests. Thompson then had his victim wipe away any evidence with a plastic bag as he feared his wife would find out.
The incident was reported to the police but the victim was persuaded not to pursue the complaint. His victim then confided in friends and family and a rape charge was finally brought on Thompson.

In the trial, Judge Phillips said Thompson- who has previous convictions for battery and setting a fire in a hospital- carried out a ‘rough attack’ on a vulnerable girl. He then compared the victims tiny frame to the stocky frame of Thompson and said he had ‘demeaned and humiliated’ the girl and Thompson was also said to have taunted her every time he saw her after the attack.

The victim gave a lengthy statement in which she said everyday of her life became a nightmare and she had contemplated suicide, adding “I was a happy carefree girl and he destroyed that”.

Thompson was sentenced to 9 years in prison and has been made subject to a sexual harm prevention order.

The article also included that Thompson is now in a wheelchair, dependant on carers and that prison would have a life shortening effect.

I’m a little vexed about the length of the sentence given to Thompson. He is a rapist, he should be locked up for more than 9 years regardless of his health conditions. And as for not wanting his wife to find out… I’m pretty sure she knows about it now. Idiot!

 

Suicide: CSA strikes again

I was browsing on Facebook earlier and saw a post by one of the groups I follow, which had posted a link to an article on The Guardian’s website.

A father hanged killed himself after being asked for £11,000 in child support. 

I. Sandywell, 45, hanged himself after receiving numerous letters from the Child Support Agency (CSA) demanding him to pay £11,000 (£520 a month) in backdated payments for his 22 year-old son. 

The victim’s wife, J Balsamo, told the inquest that she had received a telephone call from her husband on the day of his death, sobbing over his fears of not being able to support her and pay their mortgage. The couple agreed to discuss the matters later that evening, however, upon arriving home, Balsamo found Sandywell’s body. 
She also told the inquest of the 2-year battle Sandywell was in with his ex-wife following their divorce in 2001. 
Balsamo also said that it was hard for absent parents and that the CSA do not take people’s lives into account. 

The inquest also heard that CSA had still been sending letters to Balsamo demanding the money owed to be paid from Sandywell’s estate. They even sent an email saying; “Sorry for your loss, please accept this letter as a claim on I’s estate for the outstanding amount of £9,000.” 

So basically because Sandywell’s ex-wife went through CSA for maintenance payments and someone made an arse of working out the original amount Sandywell was required to pay, he ended up not being able to cope and thought death was the only answer. This is a disgrace.
Sandywell isn’t the first suicide case caused by CSA and I’m sure he won’t be the last. How many more suicides have to be committed before the CSA procedures change or are abolished altogether?

In my opinion, there shouldn’t be a government agency arranging maintenance payments between parents. If the parent’s are mature enough to conceive the child, then surely they are mature enough to amicably arrange payments of financial support for said child?
Obviously I know that people aren’t mature enough to arrange this themselves, but surely CSA should suggest a mediation option before getting involved and arranging the amount to be paid by the absent parent?
It would be a lot easier if CSA took living expenses into account but they don’t, they work out the amount to be paid before tax is deducted. For example; A earns £20,000 a year, CSA would then work out a figure based on this then take that figure from the paying parent after their tax has been paid. This means that after CSA, tax and National Insurance (NI) has been deducted, A would have £1123.93 a month to pay all their bills, rent, travel expenses etc.

And what rubs salt into the wounds even more is the fact that if the mother/parent who the children live with, claims benefits they will still receive their full benefits plus their CSA payments, this is because the tax on the CSA has already been paid by the paying parent.
So the parent the children live with, if they do claim full benefits, would have a greater income than the parent who is working full-time. Where is the justice in that?
Surely if a parent receives full benefits and claim CSA, they should have their benefits reduced by the amount they receive in CSA?
And it is utter bollocks that CSA claim the payments are to “help keep a roof over the children’s heads” because if full benefits are being claimed then the receiving parent will have no or a very small amount of rent to pay.

It is a complete and utter disgrace and it also goes to show how it is easier to pop out kids and screw the father out of money rather than getting a job to support your children. The whole system is bullshit!

Parental responsibility

What would you do if your child was severely disabled, had no quality of life whatsoever, and your local NHS who were caring for the child told you that because of the condition, your child should only receive palliative care and be allowed to die?
Would you, like me, see that ending their suffering would be kinder? Or would you fight the NHS and the courts in order to keep your child alive for as long as possible?

I was reading an article on the DM’s website which detailed the above situation. Parents of a severely disabled 2 year-old are appealing an application made by their local NHS to allow their son to die.
The NHS stated that the child, who requires full-time NHS care, is “neurologically disabled” and should “be allowed to die”. The also believe that the child’s quality of life is so poor that he should only receive palliative care and bring in an ‘end of life’ plan. However, the parents are claiming that he recognises them and is happy when they are all together.

The High Court is yet to make a decision on this appeal, however, it must be a difficult decision to make. I know that there will be legal factors to take into consideration, but surely the High Court can see that allowing the child to die would be less cruel then prolonging the suffering?

I know the child is 2 years-old and I know that this is every parents worst nightmare, but as a parent, I can see both sides of the situation. I wouldn’t want my child to die but I also wouldn’t want them suffering in this manner, and no matter how painful it would be, I would choose to relieve my child of any pain and suffering rather than drag it out just because I didn’t want to say goodbye.

I will probably get called heartless for this post, don’t get me wrong I understand that this is difficult for the family, I just think that sometimes we have to look beyond our own suffering in order to do what is right.

 

Justice? For Poppi

If there is one thing I cannot stand it’s cases that have resulted in the death of a child due to cock ups by “professionals” who are supposed to protect children. The Daily Mail and other media sources campaigned to have the details of the Poppi Worthington case released and they are horrifying to say the least.  
Poppi Worthington was 13 months old when she was subjected to horrific sexual assault by her father, Paul, that resulted in her death in December 2012.  

On the night of the assault- assault seems to mild a word in fairness- Poppi was a bit ‘snuffy’ but otherwise well. Her mother put her to bed at about 7pm. Poppi’s mother then watched television downstairs and at about 9pm Paul went upstairs with his laptop and went to bed. He admits he checked out some sports results which he had put bets on then watched some porn- which he told police involved adults- before falling asleep.  

Poppi’s mum, at about 2am, went to get the laptop for her own personal use as Paul slept.  

Paul gave his own version of what happened that night, however, the judge was not convinced. He claims he was woken in the early hours by a scream or cry for Poppi’s room. He went into her room and he claims that he found her ‘rigid and stiff’.  

He gave her a cuddle and took her into his bedroom and laid her on the bed crossways. He brought a clean nappy from downstairs, but did not change her, and got back into bed. After a few minutes he says, he put out his hand and touched Poppi and found that she had gone “limp”.

He then ran downstairs wither her and called out to her mother to get an ambulance. The call to 999 was made at 5.56am and the ambulance arrived at 6:05am. The paramedic described Poppi as being ‘very pale, waxy and obviously not breathing’.

In the ambulance the cardiac monitor showed that Poppi’s heart was not beating. On the way to the hospital birth paramedics and her father tried reviving her. 

On arrival at 6:11am, Poppi was taken immediately to the resuscitation room. A locus consultant paediatrician led the challenging attempt to restart Poppi’s heart, which continued for 57 minutes, during which she received fluids and adrenaline.

Poppi was pronounced dead at 7:07am.   

The police were obviously present, they arrived at the house before the ambulance left, one officer remained with the family until 7:22am when she was relieved of her duties whilst the other went with the family to the hospital.  

At 9:40am a crime scene investigator attended and took photographs and a video.

At 10:15am, Detective A Sadler, attended the hospital with a colleague and inspected Poppi’s body. Upon inspection, they noticed some blood trickling down her leg when they moved her body. Poppi’s mother and father were then spoken to by the police at the hospital.  

During the course of the morning, Paul was permitted to go to the toilet where he could of washed away any crucial DNA that would have been evidence if a criminal case was brought against him. Swabs were not taken from him until later that afternoon.

There were other crucial evidence that was lost during the attempt to save Poppi’s life. The gloves the paramedic wore were thrown away, the stretcher sheet, which had blood and other bodily fluids on it and which might have held significant evidence, was not preserved.  

A police officer saw a used nappy on the floor near the fireplace in Poppi’s home. The nappy was believed to be the last one Poppi had worn but her paternal aunt had put it in the bin and it was never retrieved.  

Other items which were not preserved for forensic analysis included Poppi’s pillow, her clothing, the bedsheet from her parents bed or any other items that may have been used during the assault.  

Conveniently, the laptop owned by Paul ‘went missing’.

The scene at the house was not secured as a crime scene and no reconstruction with the parents took place.

Cumbria County Council held a meeting on the day of Poppi’s death, a paediatrician with responsibility to safeguarding children said Poppi had suffered from chronic constipation and this may have accounted for the blood coming from the top of her legs. This was obviously wrong, she did not suffer from constipation, but it was accepted as fact at the time and probably had a bearing on many important decisions that followed.  

Poppi’s body was transferred to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on December 14th and an X-ray revealed two broken bones in one of her legs.  

Mr Justice Jackson concluded that in the absence of any proper investigation into the injury, the cause could not be determined.  

Common sense might dictate that this might have given cause for concern over the other five children, then aged between 13 months and 8 years-old, remaining in the care of Mr & Mrs Worthington.

However, it was another 4 weeks after Poppi’s death before they were examined by doctors, although no sign of injury was found. No X-Ray’s were taken.

Experts said Poppi’s injuries would have caused significant pain that would have been apparent to the parents. Both parents denied knowledge of the injuries.

Two pathologists were instructed by the coroner to examine Poppi’s body, however, because of ‘other commitments’ the examination didn’t take place until 5 days after Poppi’s death.  

One of the pathologists was deeply concerned when they found bruising and tearing. The next day they contacted Detective Sadler to express concerns that Poppi had been subjected to a ‘penetrative act’.

Despite the gravity of the charge, another officer, DCI Forrester, would not permit even basic tests to be conducted, refusing to authorise forensic testing of any samples or items sized, apart from Poppi’s blood.

On the 24th of December, one of the pathologists contacted DI Sadler to state that she believed that Poppi had not died from natural causes but as a result of an unlawful act. However, despite these concerns, the pathologist did not complete her report into Poppi’s death until 6 months later- June 25th 2013.

She explained that in such a severe case, she wanted to have all the laboratory results before making an official finding. Although usually, pathologists provide preliminary findings to the coroner.

The report issued by the other pathologist was not filed until July 2013, had filed an interim report in February, found no evidence of death by natural causes-such as a seizure etc- in her report either.  

Despite the postmortem report having yet to be published, poppi’s body was released and she was buried on February 19th 2013.

In August 2013, M Scarborough of LGC Forensics, a forensic science organisation with laboratories all over the world, was instructed by police to carry out forensic tests.  

Scarborough found that Poppi’s DNA was present on an intimate part of Mr Worthington’s body, identified from the swab taken on the afternoon of Poppi’s death, although not to the degree that might have been expected had he committed an unlawful act, and it was noted that this could have been the result of secondary transfer (from his hands to his penis during urination). 

Even though there had been a clear suggestion of sexual assault, Cumbria Constabulary failed to use a paediatrician with specialist knowledge of investigating sexual abuse.

Having considered the various reports, police arrested Mr Worthington and Poppi’s mother on August 27th 2013 and placed them on bail.  

The mother was to have no unsupervised can contact with a child and the father was to have no contact with a child under the age of 13. They were interviewed and papers relating to the case were sent to the Crown Prosecution Service in November 2013.

In September 2013, the council became aware the mother was having unsupervised contact with her children and two months later, the children were finally removed from the house and put into foster care.  

On March 28th 2014, a two-week fact-finding hearing was held at the High Court in London, where all available evidence was heard. 

Justice Jackson found in his findings, police officers involved in the case were removed and replaced. The Independent Police Complaints Commission began an investigation.

In June 2014, Cumbria County Council applied to the judge for a secrecy order to keep all facts about Poppi’s death, including the actions of the police, social workers and medical staff, suppressed for 15 years. The council’s solicitors argued that ‘disclosure of alleged shortcomings by agencies might be unfair to the agencies’.  

In July 2014, Associated Newspapers and other media groups, requested that Justice Jackson refused Cumbria’s sweeping request and the judge rejected the council’s call for secrecy. However, Mr Worthington’s name was not released to the public until December 2014 after another campaign for openness at yet another hearing.  

Full details of the circumstances surrounding a death are usually given during an inquest, however, at Poppi’s inquest, held by coroner I Smith in October 2014, no details were given.  

The inquest took place nearly 3 years after her death, delayed possibly as a result of the police investigation and lasted just 7 minutes. 2 days later Smith retired.

On January 14 2015, Cumbria’s new coroner, D Roberts, requested a fresh inquest.  

The National Crime Agency then instructed pathologist Dr Cary to examine Poppi’s case.

He suggested that Poppi may have died from a haemorrhage caused by infection but Justice Jackson rejected this theory as there was compelling evidence to support the sexual assault allegation.

However, 2 days later the CPS said there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges.

Justice Jackson was not finished there. In March 2015 he disclosed that Poppi’s father, Mr Worthington, who must have been pleased with the pathologists infection theory, requested another Family Court fact-finding hearing and 8 months later the judge ordered a new fact-finding hearing to e held in Liverpool in November 2015. The hearing took place over 5 days at a substantial cost to the taxpayer.  

On January 19th 2016, Justic Jackson’s findings of Poppi’s death being caused by the sexual assault she suffered at the hands of her father was made public.  

Mr Worthington’s sister told sources that “he has had to leave the country because of the persecution. People keep knocking on my door asking where he is, but he is not here… He is not even in this town, he has gone. He had to leave because of all the persecution over Facebook… He is devastated. He hasn’t done ‘owt and is being accused of something horrendous as this”  

The CPS have now confirmed that they are reviewing the case of their decision not to pursue criminal charges following he High Court family judge’s ruling.  

So will there be justice for Poppi? Will her father be sentenced? Or will he simply get away with murder? And what about the so-called professionals who failed to bring him to justice and who basically made a complete arise-end of the investigation? Will they be struck off? Will they have to face consequences for making such a mess of things?  

My guess is that we will never know.