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I've been called as a witness. I can't do it..

(11 Posts)
UntilTheCowsComeHome Mon 16-May-16 15:06:26

Hoping for some advice on this.

I work in a small convenience shop, I was coming in to work one day to take over a shift, 10 mins before I came in there had a been an incident of shoplifting. The other supervisor had seen it happen and wanted to report it but knew she didn't have enough time before her shift ended so asked me to report it.

I made the call to 101 and reported the incident telling them that I hadn't seen it but it had been recorded on CCTV. The person on the phone had me talk through what was seen on CCTV. Obviously I had to give my name and details. At the end of call the person said "it's highly unlikely to get to court, but if it does would you be a witness" I'm a total people pleaser and stupidly said yes.

Now, I've been summoned to court as a witness. I just can't do it. I have terrible anxiety and have just started to get the better of a terrible depression that started last year. I wasn't even a witness to the act so can't see why I should be put through standing in court up against a man who is known to be violent and abusive.

I was told that all I needed was a doctor's note to show that my anxiety meant I wouldn't need to stand. I was going to do this, but got a phone call today to say that the court date has changed to allow me time to get better.

I really, really don't see why I should be made to do this.

Legally do I have any right to just say "no" ?


MummyBex1985 Mon 16-May-16 17:03:27

If you have been summonsed as a witness then I'm afraid you can't say no. Technically you'd be at risk of arrest if you did.

Court really isn't as bad as you make it out to be in your own head. Can you get something from your GP to help calm you down?

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Mon 16-May-16 17:07:10

You need to talk to your doctor, get a letter and see about maybe giving evidence via video if that's possible. Doctor first and take it from there.

stareatthetvscreen Mon 16-May-16 18:33:53

i don't see how you can be a witness if you didn't see anything

explain this to the police

Papergirl1968 Mon 16-May-16 18:44:31

If you ring the court, or witness support (which might be based at the court or police station) they may be able to arrange for you to go and have a look around the court, be talked through the procedure etc.
Otherwise go to the court in advance, find out if there is a trial on and sit in the public gallery for a while to get a feel for how it works. If it's magistrates court, trials are usually fairly short. Crown court trials seem to be beset by endless delays, adjournments and legal arguments so you may need to go several times before you see any action!
Just remember to turn your phone on silent and stand up and sit down when the magistrates or judge enter or leave. Court ushers, usually wearing black gowns, are generally helpful if you're unsure.

swelchphr Mon 16-May-16 18:46:12

I don't think there's a need to be too nervous. I'd say exactly what you just said to us. Since you didn't see anything, that's pretty much the end of it. There's nothing else to really say.

ImperialBlether Mon 16-May-16 18:46:37

You weren't a witness! The other woman should be called. There's no point in you going to court at all.

prh47bridge Mon 16-May-16 23:27:55

To those who say the OP wasn't a witness, that depends what they want her to say. I presume the prosecution have the CCTV evidence so there is little point in the OP saying what it shows. So, assuming they haven't got confused and think the OP actually saw it happening, they could simply want her to testify as to the source of the CCTV recording and confirm that the recording they have is the right one.

UnderTheGreenwoodTree Mon 16-May-16 23:35:10

OP, I've been a witness in court, for a much worse crime than shoplifting.

It is nothing like what you see on the TV.

The worst part is the waiting around - then you go into court - they ask you questions related to your statement, and that's it. The judge was extremely gentle, polite and caring.

I was terrified of the cross examination (I'd actually just heard the Oscar Pistorius witnesses being cross-examined so ruthlessly) but it was nothing like that.

All you need to do is tell the truth. If you don't know something, then you say you don't know.

Probably all they want you to do is confirm that you made the the call to report it, and that you talked through the cctv.

FishWithABicycle Mon 16-May-16 23:37:56

The bit when you reported it and they asked if you were willing to be a witness, and you are being self-critical for saying yes - that was just a formality. You would be in contempt of court not to agree.

All they will need is for you to testify that the video they are about to show the jury is the right one, filmed at your shop. You'll be in and out in a few minutes.

It's also reasonably likely that the guilty party (assuming that the right person has been caught) will plead guilty and you won't be called anyway in the end.

Has your colleague who actually witnessed it also been called?

ReallyTired Mon 16-May-16 23:45:02

I was a victim of a crime that almost went to court. The defendant pleaded guilty at the last minute. I was able to visit the court the day before the trial. The criminal is behind a screen.

I imagine you will be asked to confirm that the CCTV is of your shop. You didn't see the crime so you can't answer many questions. With such strong evidence it'd likely the defendant will plead guilty.

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