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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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On Friday a week ago me and my girlfriend who lives with me

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On Friday a week ago me and my girlfriend who lives with me had a fight that got physical and she called the police who arrested me for ABH. They subsequently charged me with assault by beating. I have no criminal record but have been arrested before, although not for assault and not for anything to do with her.

Her statement said words to the effect that I grabbed her without physical provocation and threw her onto the bed, that we then Grappled and I then decided to get her out of the flat by force. She then says that she came back in (had managed to grab keys on way out) and confronted me again at which point I grabbed her round the throat and pushed her onto the bed for 2 to 3 seconds then I realised her and she ran out and called police.

My statement said that she attacked me and that she has a long history of attacking me, that I tried to pin her down on bed to stop her from hitting/biting/scratching me, where we grappled for a period as I struggled to get her under control, I then decided I wanted her out if the flat and I used force to get her out. The next I knew the police were there. I said that I did not try and strangle her but that whilst we were grappling on the bed it is hard to know for certain exactly where my hands were at all times, but that if I had made a deliberate attempt to strangle her I would definitely remember.

We were both very drunk and whilst I am sceptical that there could be a while second incident where she came back in and i don't remember , i am also very surprised that she would make it up.

The only other potential witnesses might be neighbours who heard something but i think it unlikely they would be able to add much other than we were rowing. I had cuts to my face and arms, which police took picture of and she has bruising to her arms and bottom/back, quite bad bruising, but then she does bruise very easily. As to whether there is any bruising or marks to her throat I do not know.

All that is just background. My real question is this:

She now wants to withdraw her statement, what should she say when doing so? I have also seen some advice saying she shouldn't and that instead she should go to court and then refuse to go into the witness box. She has already phoned them and said she wants to withdraw it and has an appt Monday, but could say she has changed her mind again. Is this the best thing to do?

I don't know exactly her reasoning but I suspect it is to do with wanting to work all this out between us and thinking it has all gone too far. But it could also be because she is def lying about who got violent first and perhaps this second incident where she came back in that I don't remember didn't really happen. If she was to say that would that make it more likely the charges will be dropped/ thrown out? It should she still do this whole uncooperative witness thing?


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

Is this the first time she has done this?

I'm afraid its not that simple to withdraw these things any more.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
In terms of attacking me, no, she has flipped out and completely lost control probably around 10 times in 2 years. This normally results in me pinning her down on a sofa or bed, whatever soft I can find until she has regained control of herself. I doubt very much she would deny this if pressed.

In terms if calling the police, yes once, I was very angry at her and bin my frustration and to do something with my anger not directed at her, u threw all her clothes out of her draws. She said she was frightened so called police. They never came up, never spoke to me, she spoke to thenm outside and said she had made a mistake/was being silly. It was at a different address probably a year to a year and a half ago.

Do you know she called the police that time? They would not have failed to attend unless it was literally 20 years ago. I'm afraid life is not like that anymore.

Is it just that you heard her on the phone to a person you presumed was a 999 operator?

Also, do you know if she has done this in other relationships?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I don't think she has ever been violent with anyone before, she only became so with me a year into our relationship when she found out that I had kissed a girl six months previous. I just think that once she had flipped once it became easier for her to flip out again. She has hit me on many more occasions than the 10ish where she lost but completely, but if it is just a couple of hits I can block/just take it on the chin, but when she loses control that becomes much harder to do.

I never saw her call the police, but she said she had and she went out of the flat, I thought to talk to them, but they never came up and never spoke to me and I personally didn't see them
Ok. She is having you on about that. Life is not like that any more. If she had phoned the police to make a claim of domestic violence they would have had to attend however much most officers would prefer not to.

Don't worry about whether she has been violent before. The issue is whether or not you know that she has called the police before to make claims of domestic abuse.

If you don't know then you don't know but to your knowledge does she have a tendency to call the police and pretend to be a victim?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Just seen a previous reply that said 'it terms of attacking me before, no. ' When clearly I mean yes. Sorry about that.

With the previous incident she said the police did come and she went down to talk to them and persuaded them not to come up and talk to me. I guess that does seem a little unlikely now I think about it, but not impossible surely?

In terms of her seeing herself as a victim and not taking responsibility for her actions, as a personality trait, yes. In terms of calling the police up, no, I'd be very surprised to find out that in previous relationships she has phoned the police and played the victim. She did it that once with me, although, now you are making me question if she really did., if she had told them there had been no violence and I had just gone home they might not have come up right?
No, its impossible unless it was literally 20 years ago. You would not believe how much I wish that were their policy but it hasn't been for many years. She is having you on about that incident.

There are two explanations. The first is that she didn't make an allegation of any crime to the 999 operator in which case nobody would have attended. The second is that she did make an allegation of crime and they did attend in which case they would have attended and you would have been spoken to.

Are you on bail with conditinos not to contact her?

Also, what did you say about the allegation in interview?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
They are my conditions of bail yes. We have a mutual friend who she is talking to and who is talking to me, so I know something of her mind but not as good as if we were talking. I obviously have to be very careful what I say to this mutual friend as I obviously can't say 'tell her this,' it is all kind of hilarious with me listening to this friend and saying my feelings in the hope that she passes them on. She has never said that she is passing them on, but it' is a fair guess that she is.

In the interview I said, she flew into a rage, attacked me, I then tried to pin her down onto the bed in self defence so she couldn't hurt me. That we I struggled to get a hold of her properly, she had really lost it and I was drunk so hard to get her under control. Then during that struggle I decided I couldn't get her under control and so to protect me and her i decided to eject her from the flat. To do that took force and and as I dragged her (not by hair or anything like that) we both took quite a heavy tumble to the floor. That as far as I am concerned after a few minutes of being very her up and emotional I lay on the bed and fell asleep and then the police came. When asked about the strangling I said that I did not try and strangle her but when we were on the bed and she is trying to lpunch/bite/scratch me it is hard to know exActly where my hands were at all times, but a deliberate attempt to strangle would not have gone unnoticed by me.
Ok. If I can be wholly frank with you, you need to learn three basic lessons.

1 It is not normal to call the police to resolve personal disputes. Of course, this level of violence isn't ideal either but thats a matter for you. However, there are loads of women about available to you with whom you can have rows who will not get the police involved or indeed threaten to do so. We all have arguments. We don't all summons the police to act as a referree.

2 If you are intent upon remaining in a relationship with somebody who does call the police in these circumstances then you need to learn to have solicitors in police interview. I imagine you did not here?

3 If you are ever in this position again, no comment interview and maybe a prepared statement. Self defence is a very complicated defence. Its very narrow and very hard for men to raise it against women. They will almost certainly be trying to argue that you went too far or there were other things you could have done and they could prosecute you on that basis alone even without her evidence.

In terms of her position, the short answer is that you cannot just not press charges but there are things that you can do about this.

If she has made a statement then the case is no longer hers. A statement is just evidence like any other. It does not have to be in written form. Even a oral declaration to a police officer is evidence. Once evidence is obtained by the Crown you cannot withdraw it from them.

What you can do is tell the prosecution that you don't want to support any further prosecution. This is where the complication lies.

I realise that the background to this has nothing to do with you and is not of your creation but it might help you to understand the position.

Traditionally when complainants said that they were reluctant the prosecution was dropped. That has encouraged abuse from some sections of society.

Sadly, genuine victims of domestic abuse are not the only people who do call the police to domestic incidents. Some people, and it's not only women, seem to use the police as a mediation service and call them to almost every argument in the house. Also, some people make reports to the police knowing that they never intended to give evidence but just to get their partner out of the house for the evening.

This has led to understandable frustration amongst police officers. To deal with that they have turned to a policy of summonsing a reluctant witness.

They do not summons in every case. It's fair to say that sometimes people are allowed to withdraw. Its difficult to say whether they would summons her. If the previous call had happened they would probably summons but I suspect it did not in the way she describes. They may summons because you have admitted laying hands on her in interview.

However, there are some CPS reviewers who are militant, or just fail to consider the case properly, and will summons in circumstances where they should not.

If they do summons then she will have to think about what she wants to do. Failing to answer a summons is a contempt of court in principle although it would not be prosecuted. I've only ever seen one prosecution for contempt arising from failing to answer a summons and that involved a person who has been a real drain on police resources.

What they might do is issue a witness warrant for her arrest to put you before the court to give evidence. There is about a 1% chance of that happening. That is preserved for people who are very well known to the constabulary.

The trouble with summonsing is that it really only scares the law abiding. Young ladies from a background of making allegations of abuse are quite well aware of what the Crown will or will not do.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So, just so am clear, what is the best case scenario from here?


Most likely is this:

She says she doesnt want to support prosecution because she wants to work things out etc and then I hope they just drop it. If they dont drop it and she is summonsed I need to hope she does go. If she doesnt, will the case against me likely collapse?


What if:

She admits she attacked me, admits her history of doing so and says that the whole second bit where she came in and i strangled her for 2 to 3 secs didnt happen. What, in your opinion, would happen if she did that?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Other.
solicitor working on another persons question
If she doesn't go they will probably get on adjournment and then have to drop the case
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sorry to keep banging on about it, but, best case scenario for me is what?


1. She withdraws her statement and then refuses to go to court?


2. She changes it to what I think actually happened, i.e. she attacked me and the whole bit about strangling her was not true?

There are disadvantages in both really.

1 If this happens they will summons her and probably get one adjournment to get her there and then have to throw their hand in.

2 If this happens then one of three things will happen. I] they will believe her and drop the case. Obviously that would be wonderful if that happens. II} they will believe her and charge her with perverting the course of justice or wasting police time. That could happen and thats not bad for you either as it will bring an end to her career of making allegations against you effectively. IIII} They will disbelieve her and carry on summonsing her and treat her as a hostile witness.

Probably, overall, from your point of view point 2 has the greater potential to be in your favour.
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