News & Insights

Crown discontinue youth proceedings after Judicial Review issue

15/09/2022

Although Chloe’s client was 16 years old, he had been assessed by psychologists as having a mental capacity of a 7 year old, with the understanding of a lower school infant child. He was assessed as being unfit to plead or participate in Court proceedings.

Despite these factors, and despite his previous good character, the Crown Prosecution Service sought to prosecute him for being in possession of a bladed article.

Following initial written representations made by the defence challenging the application of the Youth Gravity Matrix on the factual circumstances of the case, an out-of-Court disposal was offered in the form of a Youth Conditional Caution. It was unclear how this could be administered given that Chloe’s client was unable to understand or engage in any such process due to his cognitive capabilities.

The defence issued Judicial Review proceedings seeking the review of the High Court on the decision to retain Chloe’s client in the criminal justice system by means of an out-of-Court disposal. Upon further review, the Crown Prosecution Service have now discontinued the case in its entirety – meaning Chloe’s client retains his previous good character.

The case highlights key shortcomings in the youth justice system in fairly dealing with children with mental health issues or cognitive disability who cannot engage in proceedings but whose behaviour would ordinarily be best dealt with by way of out-of-Court disposal.

Chloe was instructed by Caroline Liggins, Hodge Jones & Allen

You can read Silas Lee‘s blog, ‘Fit for Purpose? Fitness to Plead and Mental Health in the Magistrates’ court’ here.

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