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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71040
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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hello, I am due to be a prosecution witness next week for a

Customer Question

hello, I am due to be a prosecution witness next week for a murder trial. The defendant is an ex boyfriend who I have not seen in person for 3 years, but we kept in touch by sms and occasionally phone during this time, and remained amicable. However to my shock and horror, in January of last year, he was arrested for the suspected murder of a woman who he had been seeing for a few months. Later in the year of 2013 he was formally charged with her murder. I cannot believe it of him, and Im very shocked, but having said this, there were a few things that I told the police when they asked me about him, that lead me to have to make a statement, and now Im being forced to appear as a prosection witness. I was with him in a relationship for 2 years, and had known him years before at school. I am devastated at having to give evidence about him in court for the prosecution, and I am also terrified, as I have a phobia about speaking in public or in front of large groups etc. I suffer panic attacks, and that coupled with the prospect of having to answer intimate questions about him with him staring at me lead me to apply for a witness screen, to help me manage my anxiety. I was told by the officer who took the statement regarding the screen, that there should be no problem with me being granted a screen, but the trial has started now today, and i am due to appear next week, and i still havent heard if ill be allowed this screen. The witness care team say they still have not heard yet from the crown prosecution whether ill get it, and say i may not find out until i get there. I almost feel if i cant have this screen, Ill be physically and mentally unable to give evidence. Can I do anything else to help myself in this situation? Can I refuse to give evidence unless they help me, and provide a screen? I really feel desperate about it. Thankyou
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

If you are not upon a summons then you can refuse to give evidence but it would just lead to them seeking a summons. This is a murder and you are obviously not the victim so I wouldn't expect them to be sympathetic I'm afraid. The severity of the offence is so great that public interest outweighs your views I'm afraid.

For future reference of you want to avoid this just don't provide a statement. Nobody can force you to make a statement and of there is no statement summonsing is near impossible.

Whether you will get a screen is another matter. It depends on the grounds of your application. Probably they haven't even applied yet but will do so on the morning if you haven't heard so far.

I'm really sorry but you have to be realistic I'm afraid. This is a serious offence.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thankyou for your help, I was very naive, and thought i had to give a statement by law, when the detective came to question me. I have never been through anything like this before or had any dealings with police etc, and was led to believe I had to make and sign my statement. I just assumed I could trust the police to tell me all these things, I had no advice, or help, and was in shock. I doubt I will be in this situation again in the future, but I will never make a statement again to the police. Yes this is a very serious offence, I know that, but I cannot see how they can expect me to be of any help if Im too panic stricken to think straight, and speak properly. I am just hoping they will give me the screen on the day, I go, if not, then ill just have to get through the best I can. I had no reason to believe this man would do this, and I cant understand any of it. The public interest is of course a priority over me, but how can I help them if they wont make it bearable for me? It's ridiculous. I have lost all faith in the police, and the whole law system, as I have done nothing wrong, and was just unlucky enough to have known him before, and then been naive enough to sign a statement. I dont want sympathy from them, just to be given the ability to give my evidence with as little panic as possible. It's a condition social phobia, and panic attacks are difficult to control.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Yes, I know that they are not always full and frank about this.

Of course, it is possible that he is innocent. People are acquitted of murder sometimes especially with domestics.

There are special measures available usually to Crowns witnesses although there is a difference is seeking special measures because you are intimidated by the defendant or another person and seeking special measures because you don't want to give evidence.

If you think your statement is wrong or paints and unfair picture then you can give evidence about that. If the police came back to me now about some of my previous lovers they would probably get a colourful response but thats not the same thing as saying that they are abusers.