Pauline Campbell sent this report of her acquittal when common sense prevailed at the court hearing. How much it cost to get to this point is another question.
OUTCOME OF CRIMINAL TRIAL
North Avon Magistrates’ Court – Wednesday 26 September 2007
Defendant: Pauline Campbell
Charge: Obstructing the highway
Judge: District Judge David Parsons
Defence barrister: Mr Peter Thornton QC, head of Doughty Street Chambers; instructed by Messrs Hickman & Rose, London
(1) The alleged wrong occurred outside HMP & YOI Eastwood Park on 24 January 2007, at a prison-death demonstration to protest against the death of mother-of-five Caroline Powell, 26, who died in the ‘care’ of the jail on 5 January 2007. Ms Powell was on remand, and therefore legally innocent, when she died.
(2) Today’s trial finished at around 5.30 pm, and was attended by representatives from the ‘No More Prison’ group; Crossroads Women’s Centre, London; and other supporters. A demonstration was also held outside the court building, commencing at 9.30 am.
(3) Reporters, photographers, and local television were present at today’s court hearing.
(4) BBC Online News report: “Woman cleared after jail protest“; published 26 September 2007 –
“The case was dismissed. District Judge David Parsons said I went to protest and expressed my genuinely held concerns about the deaths of women in custody, and he said: ‘I have been told that you are in the vanguard of public opinion, seeking to bring about change.’
“The District Judge was satisfied that I did not have any intention to obstruct the highway. And I didn’t.
“Caroline Powell’s grieving parents were shocked that I was facing a criminal trial for protesting against the death of their daughter but, when I spoke to them by telephone after today’s hearing, they were pleased the case had been dismissed.
“This is a victory for common sense, and justice has been seen to be done. However, it is a matter of great injustice that thirty-nine women prisoners have died from apparently self-inflicted injuries since my daughter’s death in 2003. Some moral leadership from within Labour’s ranks is badly needed in order to deal with the scandal of women dying at the hands of the State.
“I am grateful to Mr Peter Thornton QC for representing me pro-bono, and to Hickman and Rose (Mr Noam Almaz) for stepping in to provide pro-bono assistance in the days leading up to the trial. Legal aid had been denied.” [Pauline Campbell]
Doughty Street Chambers:
Hickman and Rose:
[Bereaved mother of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, 18, who died while on ‘suicide watch’ – HMP & YOI Styal, 18.01.03]
Trustee of The Howard League for Penal Reform http:// www.howardleague.org
Awarded The 2005 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize