June 18 2013 Latest news:
by lizzie parry
Friday, November 2, 2012
A WOMAN who was allegedly assaulted by her boyfriend but was denied the right to see him stand trial could still get her day in court, it emerged today.
The Attorney General, legal advisor to the government, has pledged to hold a formal investigation into Harriet Atkinson’s case after her MP Dr Therese Coffey stepped in.
The 22-year-old, of Hemley, was wrongly told to attend court in the afternoon for the trial of fitness trainer Lewis Rookyard, who denied a charge of assault by beating.
But unbeknown to her, the trial where she was due to give evidence had been fixed to start in the morning at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court in Ipswich.
Officials realised she had been given the wrong time by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) when she failed to appear at 10am and a police car was sent to pick her up.
The prosecutor applied for the case to be postponed for 30 minutes, pointing out that Miss Atkinson was on her way and in no way to blame. But magistrates rejected the application and dismissed the case due to her non-attendance.
The CPS has apologised for the error and considered seeking a judicial review to try to get the High Court to rule the magistrates acted incorrectly.
But Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Coffey told The Star: “I spoke to the Attorney General about this case and he instantly agreed to carry out a formal investigation into what happened. I have also finally been advised from the CPS that they are considering a judicial review which may re-open the case.”
She said she understood CPS had commissioned advice to establish whether they would be successful with a judicial review.
Reacting to the news, David Atkinson, Miss Atkinson’s father, said his daughter deserves her day in court.
“I felt the injustice of it all was down to the legal advice given to magistrates,” he told The Star.
“The first court date was in April but three days before the trial it was adjourned because his defence needed more time.
“Harriet had to wait another four months, nervous and anxious, and then they can’t wait an hour for her to get to court when it wasn’t even her fault – it is completely wrong.
“I am really pleased they are looking at a judicial review. Harriet deserves her day in court. She can’t move on, she feels like she is in a worse position now than after the incident.”
In a statement, the CPS said: “We are currently seeking counsel’s advice on whether we can apply for a judicial review at the High Court of the magistrates’ decision.”
When contacted previously, Michelle Bevan-Margetts, the presiding magistrate, refused to comment.