The barrister acting for a businessman who was the victim of a brutal attack says he will be taking the case to Europe after being frustrated by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Joe Richards, from Coventry, suffered multiple skull fractures, spent two weeks on a life support machine and almost died after being attacked three years ago.
But his attacker was sentenced to just 200 hours’ community service and was given a £500 fine. He walked free from court after his sentencing hearing having spent two months on remand.
Mr Richards has been campaigning for a re-trial, saying the evidence showed there was grounds for charging the attacker again with a more serious offence. He discovered a little-known exception to the ‘double jeopardy’ principle that no one may be tried twice for the same offence which means that if there is compelling new evidence, and it is in the public interest, the defendant can be re-tried.
He submitted new medical and witness evidence supporting his case to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the head of the CPS, along with arguments by barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC, in his bid to get the case reopened.
But after an encouraging response from the Director of Public Prosecutions, he has now received a letter from Harry Ireland, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the West Midlands, saying that he will not re-prosecute Mr Richards’ attacker.
Mr Tomlinson, Mr Richards’ barrister, said: “The CPS really need to look more closely at the evidence we have submitted. Mr Richards has a very strong case which requires thorough analysis. Before any further steps are taken we are asking the CPS to conduct a thorough review of the evidence.”
He added he is now writing to the CPS outlining his concerns with their decision and asking them to review Mr Richards’ submissions more thoroughly. If they refuse Mr Richards will go to the High Court seeking judicial review, which could see a judge ordering the CPS to review the case and he will also endeavour to utilise his human rights.
Mr Richards has received support from politicians in his campaign for justice. Edward Garnier QC, the Conservative shadow minister for justice, wrote that he was surprised Mr Richards’ attacker was not charged with a more serious offence.
And Dominic Grieve QC, the shadow justice secretary and shadow attorney general, said in a letter to Mr Richards that should the Tories win the next election, they will prioritise the appointment of a ‘victim’s commissioner’ to stand up for victims.
The Coventry man said: “The CPS response is wholly inadequate, and contains gross inaccuracies.
“I have provided medical and witness evidence that shows that I must have been hit from behind with a weapon. How the CPS can say this is not compelling is beyond me. Not only that, but we provided them with a large bundle of evidence and they sent back a letter covering four sides of A4. This shows that they failed to properly analyse my case.
“It is a clear breach of human rights. They seem to have just fobbed me off, ignoring the new evidence I submitted. But they have underestimated me. I will not rest until my attacker is brought to justice even if it means taking my case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
“The CPS need to understand that I’m not going to go away until they admit that three years ago they were wrong to charge the thug who almost killed me with a minor offence and look properly at my case.
“If they do that they will see that they have the evidence, and the legal authority, to charge my attacker with the appropriate offence.”