Monday, April 20, 2015

Ten men with dementia convicted of sexual offences this year

Last summer, when tales of a peer who faced accusation of the sexual abuse of children but might escape justice because of dementia began to appear, I blogged about the case of Michael Collingwood.

In that post I quoted a 2010 report from the Western Morning News:
A Devon man has been found guilty of abusing six under-age girls in a trial held in his absence at Exeter Crown Court. 
Jurors yesterday unanimously found that Michael Collingwood, now 69, of Tedburn St Mary, near Exeter, committed 23 sex offences, including raping one girl. 
Judge Paul Darlow instructed the jury to formally enter not guilty pleas to the other six sex offence allegations. 
Jurors heard the trial in Collingwood's absence after being told he suffers from severe dementia.
I am not a lawyer, and it may well be that there are important differences between the case of Collingwood and of the peer we now know to be Greville Janner.

But ever since the director of public prosecutions announced her decision, people have been tweeting links to other cases where men with dementia have been convicted of sexual offences against children.

And now the Daily Mail has drawn the cases together under the shouty headline:

Why is Labour Peer Lord Janner not being prosecuted because he has dementia? At least 19 defendants suffering with the disease have been convicted for sex crimes... and TEN were in the past year

You might think that someone with dementia should not be prosecuted as he will not be able to understand proceedings or instruct lawyers, but - rightly or wrongly - that does not appear to be the practice in Britain today.

I would welcome some lawyerly comment on this, but it is becoming impossible to resist the conclusion that Greville Janner has been given special treatment.

And if that is the case, then Alison Saunders should resign.


Helen Pender said...

No one in authority wanted this case in court. They've all covered their backs with extraordinary statements to convict Janner in the court of public opinion.

The police didn't want it, the DPP didn't want it and the Conservative and Labour parties didn't want it.

Question is: Is Janner's memory loss not sufficient to ensure he won't tell a court where the bodies are buried?

Helena said...

I hate to rely on the Daily Mail for anything. If these facts can be independently verified they do indicate a serious error on the part of the CPS: the law on how to deal with potential defendants who have dementia must have been established, and the same rule should apply to all.