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Is dementia a reason not to stand trial for historic abuse ?

  • April 17, 2015
  • mmassen
  • Comments Off on Is dementia a reason not to stand trial for historic abuse ?

 

The decision by Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions not to charge Labour Peer Lord Janner of Braunstone in relation to allegations of historical sex crimes on the grounds that he is suffering from severe dementia has brought criticism from many quarters.

The CPS have acknowledged that the allegations are “extremely serious” and that there is sufficient evidence to have justified a criminal prosecution. They have further added that the former MP and QC’s poor health was such it was not appropriate to pursue the case in the Courts. They say “the CPS has concluded that Lord Janner should not be prosecuted because of the severity of his dementia which means he is not fit to take part in any proceedings, there is no treatment for his condition and there is no current or future risk of offending”.

The offences mentioned relate to a string of sexual offences against children in the period between 1969 and 1988.

The allegations were based upon the testimony of more than a dozen victims and it is claimed that the former Labour politician used his position to pray and abuse on boys at a local children’s home.
Leicester Police said that they are “exploring what possible legal avenues there may be to challenge” the decision by the CPS not to prosecute.

Assistant Chief Constable Roger Bannister of the Leicestershire Police said the decision was “perverse” and did nothing to assist or encourage the victims of sexual abuse to come forward.

Criticism has been increased by the fact that details of the allegations first became known in the early 1990s and there have been three investigations into Janner over the past 20 years. The CPS have admitted that mistakes were made and that Janner should have been prosecuted earlier and presumably prior to the onset of his dementia.

Compare and contrast this with the conviction of Michael Collingwood who in 2010 was found to have “did the act as charged” rather than being ‘guilty’ due to his inability to stand trial in relation to historic sex offences because of his severe dementia.

The alleged victims of Janner have stated that they are not looking to see an elderly man incarcerated but they are looking for recognition of the abuse and the opportunity for the truth to be told.

Peter Saunders, a Spokesman for the National Association of People Abused in Childhood said, when speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme “the message here is that if you are old or important you can still get away with it”.

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