Victim of domestic abuse '˜traumatised' by court appearance

A woman who experienced 'chilling' abuse at the hands of her partner has told MSPs the handling of her case left her 're-traumatised'.

Domestic Abuse

Providing evidence to an inquiry into the work of the Crown Office, the woman, known only as “Z”, said she had been repeatedly let down by prosecutors and described an advocacy service for victims as “awful”.

Her comments were made to MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee, which is currently examining the role of the prosecution service.

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The woman, who had been assaulted by her partner, went to court for a case the trial judge described as “chilling” and one of the worst of its kind he had heard.

A report of the woman’s meeting with MSPs to discuss her case earlier this month said her experience of the court process had been “very negative” and had left her feeling “re-tramautised”.

The woman described bail conditions which allowed her partner access to her garden and said a specialist domestic abuse and advocacy service working with victims in her area had been “awful”.

The report said: “The woman said that the Victim Information and Advice (VIA) service – the branch of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) that assists victims – had also got basic information wrong.

“They had also, wrongly, told her that the accused’s bail had been lifted during the one month delay after conviction and before sentencing.

“At the conclusion of the trial process, they had written to Z telling her that her ex-partner had been acquitted. Again, this was wrong and very confusing as Z had found out from other sources that it was a guilty verdict.”

The woman said contact with the prosecutor before her trial had been brief and that basic details of the prosecution case were got wrong during the trial.

She said “highly sensitive” information had been led in court, including details which put her personal safety at risk.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “The law officers and crown agent welcome the justice committee’s decision to examine the work of Scotland’s prosecution service as an opportunity for them to set out their vision.

“We recognise the devastating impact that domestic abuse can have on victims and their families and will do everything we can to ensure our approach to the investigation and prosecution of domestic abuse is appropriate and effective.”