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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69992
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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My wife (Natalie) has received a "notice to attend" court as

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My wife (Natalie) has received a "notice to attend" court as a witness, in a case where the crime is assault by beating; the victim is my wife's sister (Heather); and the accused is Heather's husband (Dave). There's not much doubt that the beating took place - Heather went to hospital and the police arrived at the house as the assault was taking place. Dave has pleaded not guilty and (we assume) is going to plead either provocation or diminished responsibility. (And we're pretty sure, he's been under the care of a psychiatrist and on medication since the events of that night.)
My wife is deeply reluctant to go to court, for three reasons. (A) she has a relapsing-remitting neurological condition and fears that the stress of cross-examination would aggravate her issues, and (B) her witness statement (*) was very full and she has little more to add, and (C) her statement was quite balanced but - with her sister in court - she'd feel strongly pressured to say only things that favoured her sister. She'd find it hard to be properly objective given that pressure.
[* - Heather was on the phone to Natalie on and off through the evening of the assault, so my wife is able to testify to what Heather was telling her at the time. Also, we saw the Heather/Dave relationship unfold over some years, so the stateement goes into some detail about the conflicts in that relationnship.]
So, my question. Is natalie technically compelled to go to court? Would she be heard sympathetically if she asked to be released? What in practice would happen if she just didn't turn up? Many thanks for your wisdom!
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 10 months ago.

Who called the police?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Heather - she barricaded herself in a room, called the police and remained on the line as Dave battered at the door. So there's really not much doubt that the assault happened. The argument will be around context. And - full disclosure - my wife is sympathetic to Dave's (presumed) claims of provocation and/or diminished responsibility. There WERE both factors present. But hard to say taht in a room with her sister listening and a barrister teasing the answer out in all its gory detail.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 10 months ago.

Do you know if she has done this before?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
This was the first assault and the first police involvement. Heather is not seeking a jail term for Dave and the case is being held in a magistrates court not a county court.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 10 months ago.

It doesn't matter what she is seeking. It is of no relevance. Point is that she has made this allegation.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 10 months ago.

It is very unfortunate as it all could have been avoided if the police hadn't been called but they were.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 10 months ago.

The reality is that this is a summons. If she ignores it that is a contempt of court. She will not be prosecuted but they may issue a warrant for her arrest to put her before the court to give evidence.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 10 months ago.

The reality is that this is a summons. If she ignores it that is a contempt of court. She will not be prosecuted but they may issue a warrant for her arrest to put her before the court to give evidence.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 10 months ago.

That does not happen all that often and, in fairness, there isn't a history of her sister doing this which helps. But your wife does not have the protection of being the victim so a witness warrant is possible.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 10 months ago.

There are also offences in going to court and refusing to give evidence. Again, rarely used by possible.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 10 months ago.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Sorry - your site is glitching and my internet is cutting in and out. Just one more thing, on the disability issue, if my wife says, yes she can come, but it would need to be at a fixed time and in the afternoon. (eg: at 2.00 on a set day), would that work? The reality is that she simply could not arrive (from Oxon) by 9.30, wait for 6 hours, then be called as a witness. She simply couldn't cope with that, no matter how well or ill she was that day. And would she need to supply a doctor's letter or would her own statement suffice? (She IS ill - and her needs ARE genuine.)
Expert:  Jo C. replied 10 months ago.

Yes, I know the feeling about glitching! I am having similar problems.

She can always tell them that they will need to make those arrangements for her but the reality is that criminal courts cannot really give people are particular time slot. This would take priority over other cases, depending on what is double listed, but it is possible there could be lack of court time and the like or a genuine delay with something like an absent clerk. Magistrates Courts are chaos.

They would probably try to make some arrangements for her though.

Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69992
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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