Through Advocate, a domestic violence perpetrator was prevented from using the criminal justice system to maintain control over his ex-partner.

Trigger warning: Mentions of domestic violence

When the police told Sharon she needed to accept a caution for criminal damage against her abusive ex-partner’s van, she was incredibly distressed and confused. Fortunately, with the pro bono support of barrister Cathy Mitchell, the charges were dropped, and Sharon has now been able to move on.

Sharon had lived in a coercive and controlling relationship with her partner for six years.

Police were called to Sharon’s home during an altercation between herself and her partner, where her partner had become extremely violent. The police arrested the partner, charging him with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and intentional non-fatal strangulation.

However, whilst at the police station, the partner told the police that Sharon had ripped off his van’s wing-mirror a year prior. The police then told Sharon that she needed to accept a caution for criminal damage.

Sharon was severely distressed as to why she had been issued a caution after all she had experienced.

To try and stop the hearing from going ahead, Sharon’s duty solicitor approached the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at court to explain Sharon’s long history of being a victim of domestic abuse. The CPS were unwilling to drop the charges, but the duty solicitor managed to secure an adjournment to delay the hearing. This bought Sharon enough time to seek further legal advice, which was when she approached Advocate.

Cathy Mitchell of New Bailey Chambers, Liverpool, quickly took up the case.

Cathy argued that it was not in the public interest for the CPS to press charges. The accusation that Sharon had caused criminal damage was not made to protect public safety, but was rather another way for Sharon’s ex-partner to exercise control over Sharon, now that he was no longer permitted to have contact with her.

Following Cathy’s review, the CPS decided that it was not in the public interest to prosecute Sharon and dropped the charges. Without Cathy’s expert support on a pro bono basis, the outcome could have been very different for Sharon; she may not have been able to rebuild her life, or continue working in her current job.

Describing her experience of getting help from Advocate after the charges were dropped, Sharon said:

What an amazing resolution. I will continue to move on with my life and put this whole nightmare behind me. I am just very grateful that people and organisations like yourself are there to help and I do not know what I would of done, nor where I would be now, without your help. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”


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