Posts tagged ‘Crown Court’

May 13, 2012

It’s time a defendant’s right to freedom was superseded by the victim’s right to safety”

I spent a few days in the North West last week and was lucky to have dinner with Penny and John Clough, parents of Jane Clough who was murdered by her ex-partner Jonathan Vass in 2010.  The title of this post comes from her father’s words – spoken after the House of Lords debate on their proposed change to the bail laws.  Last week’s Queen’s Speech brought closure to one part of their campaign – to give the prosecution the right to appeal bail decisions to the High Court in Crown Court cases.  Some of you will have heard them speak and I am sure will share my respect at their courage and dignity in striving to make things better for other women who might find themselves in Jane’s position in future.  If there was ever any doubt why we do our work, dinners like this remove it.  This is a potentially important change to the law and so all IDVA’s should be aware of it.

Their achievement has been quite extraordinary – to campaign for a change in the bail laws and see it get onto the statute books within 2 years of the death of their daughter reflects both the need for the change, and their extraordinary courage and determination in not taking no for an answer.  They are an inspiring couple.

After Jane’s death, they found her diary which predicted what would happen if Vass was released on bail.  She explains very eloquently her thoughts and you can watch them reading from Jane’s diary at

You can follow their campaign at

I have included below an excerpt from the ObiterJ blog ( ) which gives the technical details of the changes.  They are one of the few good things in the Legal Aid Act (LASPO).

Chapter 2 – Bail – comprises section 90 which will bring into force Schedule 11.  This brings about various amendments to legislation dealing with bail.  The result is that the Bail Act 1976 becomes even more convoluted than it already is.  Surely, it is time for a new Act addressing bail.  A fresh start so-to-speak ! 

It was the Bail (Amendment) Act 1993 which introduced prosecution appeals (to the Crown Court) against grants of bail (by Magistrates’ Courts) to defendants.  The 1993 Act will be amended so that where a judge of the Crown Court grants bail to a person who is charged with, or convicted of, an offence punishable by imprisonment, the prosecution may appeal to the High Court against the granting of bail.  However,  an appeal may not be made where a judge of the Crown Court has granted bail on an appeal.

As originally enacted, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 section 25 prevented courts granting bail at all for defendants charged with or convicted of homicide or rape after previous conviction for such offences.  However, the original enactment was not compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights and the section was amended so as to permit courts to grant bail where the court “is satisfied” that there are exceptional circumstances.  A further amendment – in LASPO Schedule 11 – will replace the words “is satisfied” with “is of the opinion.”  The new wording is preferable but will perhaps make little practical difference.