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Being a witness in Crown Court

(11 Posts)
FranSanDisco Wed 28-Oct-09 14:30:46

Last year DH and myself witnessed my neighbour being assaulted by another neighbour. We called the police and gave statements. Last night a policeman called at our door and told us we have to appear as witnesses tomorrow. The assault charge is being presented as a racial attack apparently. When we raised our concerns about repercussions to our family/property we were told we have to attend - no excuses. This guy is saying he acted in self defence which isn't what I saw and if found guilty will get a custodial sentence we have been told. My question is what can the court do to me if I refuse to give evidence.

said Wed 28-Oct-09 14:35:39

You'll be issued with a subpeona, I suspect. Basically, you'll be ordered to appear in court otherwise you'll be penalised yourself. Hopefully a legal bod will tell you if there are any get-out clauses

FranSanDisco Wed 28-Oct-09 16:42:52

The policeman said if I/we don't turn up they'd send a car for us but would I be arrested.

nigglewiggle Wed 28-Oct-09 16:51:42

Unless things have recently changed - You could be summonsed by the Judge. If you still fail to turn up then they can issue a warrant, but this is a last resort.

Repercussions are very unlikely, but it is a shame that the officer wasn't more sympathetic. You could ring and ask for a message to be passed to the officer in charge of the case to discuss your concerns. You never know, they may be on duty this evening.

You have done a good thing in providing a statement, but it should have been explained to you at that point that you may be required to attend court. Has something happened since then to change your mind?

titchy Wed 28-Oct-09 16:56:18

Don't know about the legal ramifications if you didn't show up - prsumably you'd be in contempt fo court.

But am a bit shock that a policeman calls round and tells you you're appearing in court the next day. Surely you'd have received a summons or something official.

saggarmakersbottomknocker Wed 28-Oct-09 17:08:23

Me too - they don't just decide the court sate the day before, you should have had some more notice. Did they forget to tell you the date of the court case? If you are an important witness they would normally call well in advance to make sure you are available. It's half term - you could well have been out of the country!

nigglewiggle Wed 28-Oct-09 17:38:19

It can happen. The trial may be underway and it might have been a last minute decision to call you as a witness. Or, and from what you have said, I imagine it is last-minute rejigging of the court list creating a space for your case.

FranSanDisco Wed 28-Oct-09 18:02:20

Apparently we should have received a letter but we didn't. It is classed as a floating case so they are trying to fit it in between other cases. At the time we knew it could go to court but we didn't think it would. I don't want this guy to go to prison - I don't condone the attack but I don't agree it was racist. His children know my children. If he goes to prison there will be fall out. The guy who was attacked is fine as well. My family have to be my priority.

Fabster Wed 28-Oct-09 18:06:07

My advice would be to go to court and tell the truth. You have no choice as you would be under oath.

nigglewiggle Wed 28-Oct-09 18:12:13

Why did you not think it would go to court? That is the whole point of providing a statement.

If you can't get hold of anyone tonight then I suggest you go to court and express your concerns to the officer in the case and the prosecuting barrister. You turning up might be enough to persuade the offending neighbour to plead guilty. He may be relying on you to pull out.

It sounds like he did a terrible thing and he deserves to be punished. The court can decide whether it was racist. You can only tell them what you saw and heard. I understand your concerns, but don't just refuse to go.

ADifferentMe Wed 28-Oct-09 18:21:36

I'm due to be a witness in a crown court case next month. I have had frequent updates from the police and offers of counselling etc from witness support (I think that was the name). I also had to do a witness impact statement. They've even offered me the chance of giving evidence behind a screen. It's actually a bit ott in my case but I'm amazed they've not done all this with you. I would have thought there was a good chance of it being thrown out if all proper procedures weren't followed but presumably the same would happen if you didn't turn up.

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