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Autistic son called to court as primary witness but he's the victim!

(8 Posts)
fabanflabby Wed 15-May-13 18:43:31

In need of some legal advice please.

Without going into all the horrible details my son was attacked. The man who attacked him has been arrested and my son has to appear as a witness.
We have already been threatened by this man and so we retracted my sons witness statement but the police are still prosecuting this man. My son is their only witness!

I have tried to find a solicitor who can give us some advice on what my son's rights are as he is autistic and has other issues but i cannot seem to get any advice anywhere! I have also spoken to the National Autistic Society and the Law Society but neither could help me! Also Victim Support have been worse than useless since the attack as they cannot offer help to victims with Autism!

Can any legal eagles out there offer any advice on whether my son has to appear or what a child with special needs rights are concerning being forced to attend when he has previously been threatened and retracted his statement!

thanks in advance

MrsBertBibby Wed 15-May-13 19:36:45

Did you tell the police this man threatened your son? That's a further offence in itself.

The CPS can compel your son to attend court to give evidence. If you really believe it is going to be particularly damaging to him because of his particular situation, perhaps his GP (or better still paediatrician, or other specialist) can write a letter to the CPS?

fabanflabby Wed 15-May-13 20:36:01

Thanks MrsBertBibby,

The police are aware of the threats but seem completely focused on the arrest, not the victim. I understand they have a job to do and if he were an atypical child I wouldnt think twice about him attending the Court. However, he struggles with the basic day to day and talks of suicide when he is particularily struggling, which is often.

Thanks for the advice. I will get onto CAMHS tomorrow as he is registered with them, I will also contact his Autism specialist, the GP, his Paediatrician and the SENCO at the school. They have all dealt with him for years and are fully aware of his traits.

Thanks for the clarity - I cant think clearly at the moment as I'm so livid!

BlackeyedSusan Thu 16-May-13 22:09:53

you need to find out about the support he can get as a vulnerable witness. when i was due to go to court s a witness, they were quite helpful. i think I qualified by being pregnant confused so asd should qualify? have you contacted the court to see what support you can get?

Muffintop101 Fri 17-May-13 08:11:16

Speak to the CPS about his need for an intermediary to assist him to give evidence. They should be suitably trained to deal with his particular needs and will sit with him and "interpret" for him where necessary when giving evidence. It's important that he does give evidence as if he does not the perpetrator will probably be acquitted and may attack someone else. The CPS will want to put a dangerous person away. They will have considered whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute and will have decided the answer to those two questions is yes. So your son really ought to be assisted in a protected fashion to give evidence.

iheartdusty Fri 17-May-13 19:15:46

try these people for support and some ideas about where you go next

iheartdusty Fri 17-May-13 19:18:12

specifically, this is from the Triangle website linked to above;

"You can approach us for an initial discussion about any child or young person.
If the child is a victim or witness at investigation or trial stage you will need to contact the Specialist Operations Centre within SOCA on 0845 0005463, or email and ask for a Request-For-Service form for a Registered Intermediary.

They will then aim to match the witness to a Registered Witness Intermediary on their database. The police fund the use of Registered Intermediaries at the investigation stage and the CPS fund their use at trial stage.

The current statutory power to appoint an intermediary to assist a vulnerable witness to give evidence is provided by the Special Measures provisions in the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (YJCEA) 1999, Sections 16 and 29."

cumfy Fri 17-May-13 20:23:59

How old is your son ?

Together with his degree of autism and age the police and CPS should consider evidence being video recorded rather than given in court.

There should also be formal channels through which GP/CAMHS should be already be communicating with CPS/police.

Good luck. flowers

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