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to wonder how the families of victims of serious crimes cope in Court when they have to sit shoulder to shoulder

(76 Posts)
Cornflakesnmilk Fri 08-Aug-14 17:51:03

with the accused friends/family?

I've recently attended the Old Bailey and simply can't understand how it is that the victims Mother/Father, siblings etc have to sit with the accused families? In some case, when the public Gallery is packed, it is literally shoulder to shoulder.

I totally appreciate that the accused are simply that, they are not guilty until the Jury return a verdict but when, for example you're presented with CCTV footage of a murder, it must be very hard not to draw conclusions - as a family member I can only imagine that you would not want to be sitting anywhere near to the anyone relating to what happened to your loved one? It must simply be so painful.

I've heard people goading others, chatting between themselves, making comments about the evidence etc. Surely the victims family are going through enough?

Should there not be some kind of separation between the different parties - not segregation but simply a aisle between the seating areas for example?.

I don't quite know why I'm posting but I'm genuinely shocked at what I've witnessed.

MrsBoldon Fri 08-Aug-14 19:22:43

Maybe because the families of the accused are not

comedycentral Fri 08-Aug-14 19:34:28

I agree, I think victims and their families are not treated well at all throughout the whole process.

mysticpizza Fri 08-Aug-14 19:40:58

I agree with you, OP.

We found we were expected to sit in the same area as MIL who was supporting her perverted git of a husband standing trial for sexually abusing her own GC on at least one occasion. Fortunately there was enough seating to allow a little distance but it made my skin crawl.

On the whole though we were treated fairly sensitively in that we were allowed to use restricted entrances and exits and especially in having a victim support advocate allocated to us at the Court of Appeal who ensured anything other than visual contact didn't happen and got a separate gallery opened for us to use.

I appreciate we were fortunate in this and I absolutely feel for those forced to endure close contact with the other side of sensitive cases.

PittTheYounger Fri 08-Aug-14 19:42:13

in some newer courts there are special rooms
I suppose that until found guilty they are in fact innocent.

Must be tough though

ADHDNoodles Fri 08-Aug-14 19:50:11

Problem is officially it's innocent until proven guilty.

Unfortunately, human psychology... If you're sitting in the defendant's chair people assuming you must have done something wrong to end up there. That's why judges are so strict about what the jury can and can't use as debating points.

Cornflakesnmilk Fri 08-Aug-14 19:56:31

I do appreciate that the Old Bailey is v old and therefore it would possibly be difficult to accommodate a separate area.

Equally, as I said in my op, I do realise that the accused aren't guilty but it must be so v tough when their families are making comments, chatting, laughing etc.

mystic sorry to read of your experience although it's good that the Court did show some sensitivity.

meltedmonterayjack Fri 08-Aug-14 19:57:39

Because my ex-H eventually pleaded guilty and there was no trial, the only court attendance was for sentencing. I was sat on the row behind my ex- MIL, my ex-H's brother, SIL and his friends in court. They were all supporting my bastard ex-H. The proximity made me feel physically sick. It was traumatic enough being in the same room again as my ex but being that close to his nearest and dearest was grim. I think something needs to be done to enable people to sit as far away as possible from the defendent's family if they find being close to them distressing.

PittTheYounger Fri 08-Aug-14 19:58:41

I do sympathise. BUt you dont HAVE to go, do you? You could just stay at home?

not that you should, but you can be notified of the verdict

Cornflakesnmilk Fri 08-Aug-14 20:02:55

So sorry for you melted

Pitt I did think of that. I guess people maybe want to look the person in the eyes as it were? - I guess there must be many reasons. Thankfully I've never ever been in similar position.

LapsedTwentysomething Fri 08-Aug-14 20:03:43

Can I turn this around and ask how it must feel to be a parent or sibling of someone who has committed a terrible crime against another family's daughter (for example?)

I ask because last year a local young man planned and carried out the murder of a teenage girl and there seemed to be just nothing out of the ordinary about him and his family setup. The family of the victim, absolutely rightly, have every support and are doing all they can to create something good in their daughter's memory.

But what about the murderer's mother? She has lost the son she loved and thought she knew everything about. How devastating for her to see the suffering he wrought. I think about her as much as anyone in this, although it perhaps seems wrong.

3littlefrogs Fri 08-Aug-14 20:05:22

Not only do the families have to sit in close proximity, the victim often has to wait in the same area as the accused before going in to court.

Worse is how the victim (of a brutal armed robbery) has to stand and confirm their full name and address in front of the accused and all the accused's family and friends. This is then published in the local press.

When you have been attacked and robbed by members of the local "mafia"
this only adds to the fear and stress experienced by the victim and their family.

Add in police incompetence which means some of the perpetrators get away with the crime and the whole thing turns into a nightmare.sad

Andrewofgg Fri 08-Aug-14 20:07:34

Even if you have a separate seating area in the building there is only one courtroom and it is not realistically possible to stop them seeing each other.

And supporting your won kin when they are in trouble is part of the job description of being family, isn't it?

Cornflakesnmilk Fri 08-Aug-14 20:09:33

Lapsed I agree with you actually because I've met a number of family members (who have just started up a conversation with me) - they're victims as well and there appears to be v little support.

They appeared lost and confused. They told me that there was no one there to answer basic questions about the Court process for example.

PittTheYounger Fri 08-Aug-14 20:11:03

well there is. there is victim support or in some larger courts a victim thingy service

So they are wrong

Cornflakesnmilk Fri 08-Aug-14 20:12:18

3 how awful. I think that people have no idea about the name/address point for example and the very small waiting area. How are you coping with it all?

Andrew I agree - they have to see each other but it seemed to really be a slap in the face that people were having to 'touch' each other in terms of the shoulder to shoulder/lack of space between the v small chairs.

Cornflakesnmilk Fri 08-Aug-14 20:13:42

Victim Support is great but I get the impression, only from what I've been told, that the actual support, day to day is severely lacking. I might well be wrong which was partly why I started the thread.

PittTheYounger Fri 08-Aug-14 20:13:49

I think they cant rebuild courts though - jeez they are cutting legal aid like anything. think chair distance is, sadly, WAY down the list

JustTheRightBullets Fri 08-Aug-14 20:14:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PittTheYounger Fri 08-Aug-14 20:14:23

suppose Victim suport varies. I saw it in evidence last week for two long days of a very very trivial trial

PittTheYounger Fri 08-Aug-14 20:15:05

JUSTTHE - don't you believe it. People react in very surprising ways if they think/know they are not guilty

Cornflakesnmilk Fri 08-Aug-14 20:15:58

I know what you mean about money/lack of and the chairs. It's maybe a silly example but it's what sticks in my mind.

PittTheYounger Fri 08-Aug-14 20:18:00

oh i am not saying it isnt HUGELY significant. Its just when you look at this as a ' another day another trial' it becomes less about this


Cornflakesnmilk Fri 08-Aug-14 20:18:05

I don't have any experience of a family member doing something awful but I have been surprised when people have admitted to supporting someone after they've been convicted of some of the most awful crimes.

PittTheYounger Fri 08-Aug-14 20:20:15

I suppose in a marraige we all agree to stick with people. Crimes are not so often just out and out wrong vs right.

People want to believe their sons/daughters etc, and I am sure we all can see why

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