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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70516
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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My daughter witnessed an attack on a neighbour and made a

Customer Question

My daughter witnessed an attack on a neighbour and made a statement to the police not realizing the seriousness of it all. She has since found out that she has been called as a prime witness and is now terrified..she lives on her own in a ground floor flat the people involved have been arrested one has not been released on bail,they are a nasty evil group of people. My daughter has a medical condition crohn's and arthritis. She has an important job in London, the stress is affecting her work and her health. She has told the police she dose not want to be a witness. They have said she would be fined or even have a prison sentence if she refuses to go. The police have given her police witness protection, and plan to place a panic alarm in her flat. She is a lovely girl and by doing her duty is heading for a nervous breakdown. Is there any way she get out of this, for her own safety and health and sainity?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
HI.
Thank you for your question . My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Why doesn't she want to be a witness?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I thought I explained she is very frightend, even the police have put her witness protection, she has medical conditions and the stress is making this worse, she dose not feel safe.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
I’m really sorry but its not that simple. Most people would rather not go to court for a large number of reasons. Sometimes its that they are intimidated and other times just plain that people have better things to do. That doesn’t mean that they can withdraw unfortunately.
I know this isn’t going to be the answer you want to hear, and it’s certainly not what I want to tell you. However, I wish to be completely honest with you, so I feel obligated to not give you false hope.
She cannot withdraw a statement. Once a s9 statement is made it becomes evidence. Evidence cannot be withdrawn.
What she can do is tell the police she is not willing to assist. That does not amount to evidence. It is something they would consider but obviously they have to balance her wishes not to give evidence against the public interest that serious crimes be prosecuted.
Depending on the severity of the offence, the police would probably summons her. She is not the victim of the offence so they are more likely to summons.
Failing to answer a summons is a contempt of court. They do not generally use the contempt but that is basically because its usually the complainant in a case of domestic violence that refuses to give evidence and it would be uncomfortable to prosecute a victim for contempt. Your daughter doesn’t have that advantage. I couldn’t guarantee that she wouldn’t be prosecuted I’m afraid.
Its much more likely that they would just arrest her on a witness warrant though if she is their prime witness. Of course, they can arrest her and put her before the court but they cannot force her to give evidence. There is a bit of a debate over whether that amounts to a contempt.
However, you might want to consider that the people concerned will know that she has made a statement anyway by that stage as it would have been disclosed to them. Not giving evidence doesn’t deal with that issue.
If the issue is giving evidence then special measures will be available.
If its fear of reprisals then she will come within the protection of the offence of witness intervention for a year afterwards.
I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.
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