Attack trial collapses as witness refuses to testify

Issue 443

THE parents of a teenager attacked and left for dead by a gang of Asians say they feel "cheated" by the system after the collapse of a court trial.
Joseph Haigh, then aged 14, was savagely beaten by a gang of up to 15 Asian youths in Rectory Park, Thornhill, last October.
He was knocked unconscious with a half a house brick, stabbed in the face with a screwdriver and kicked repeatedly in the head as he lay helpless.
His attackers hurled racist abuse at him, referring to the colour of his skin, then left him for dead.
Joseph, pouring with blood, came round and staggered to a nearby bus stop to raise the alarm.
This week seven youths, four aged 17, two 15yearolds and an 18yearold, went on trial accused of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and raciallyaggravated GBH.
Only the 18yearold can be identified for legal reasons but The Press has decided it would be unfair to name him in the circumstances.
The youths live in Savile Town, Thornhill Lees or Thornhill Edge.
All seven denied the charges and on the second day of a trial expected to last up to three weeks, the case collapsed and the accused were acquitted.
The judge at Leeds Crown Court was told that a key prosecution witness, believed to be a 15yearold Asian boy, had refused to give evidence, and could not be forced due to his age.
Joseph's parents Jonathan and Stacey were shocked that the trial only lasted a dayandahalf.
Lorry driver Mr Haigh, 43, said: "We feel cheated. We did expect this outcome if we're being honest but we had been led to believe the case was stronger than just one witness.
"We are not saying those lads on trial were the ones responsible, because that was for the court to decide, but we feel let down.
"The trial only lasted a few hours and we had been told it would go on two or three weeks. It just seems a total waste of money."
The couple also criticised the initial police inquiry. Because Joseph's bike went missing police at first classified the incident as a 'robbery.'
It was a week before the police decided it was an 'attack' instead, and only after The Press published an interview with the family did officers start to treat it as raciallymotivated.
Mrs Haigh, 41, said: "Our son was almost killed and the doctor said he was the luckiest lad alive given the head injuries he suffered. Others have died after just one blow.
"Just because Joseph's bike disappeared, police said it was a robbery and the scene wasn't cordoned off and people were allowed to come and go. Vital evidence could have been missed.
"If the police had taken this seriously at the start they could have had the helicopter out and probably caught this gang before they got away.
"Don't get us wrong we are grateful to the police for getting the case to court but we can't believe the evidence was so weak."
Joseph, now 15, has made a good recovery but is still nervous when out alone.
His teeth were badly damaged and he is still receiving treatment.
Mrs Haigh, a retail worker, had taken two weeks unpaid leave for the trial and her husband had been forced to change shifts and lose overtime.
"It has all left a sour taste," said Mrs Haigh. "But at least it's over and we can get on with our lives. This has been hanging over us for a year."
Mr Haigh, who has lived in Dewsbury all his life, said the family planned to leave town and added: "Dewsbury has nothing for us now."
In a statement Patrick Gallagher, district crown prosecutor for Leeds, said: "We are fully aware that this was a serious offence which had a significant impact on the young victim, and we did everything in our power to put the case before the courts.
"Unfortunately, a key witness felt unable to give evidence on Wednesday and as a result the prosecution could not proceed.
"As a prosecuting authority we not only have a duty of care towards victims but also to witnesses, especially young witnesses.
"In these circumstances it was inappropriate to continue. The judge said he understood and respected our decision.
“I personally explained the situation at length to the victim’s parents immediately after the hearing."
Insp Jenny Thompson, of Dewsbury police, said the investigation was "thorough and comprehensive" and added: "From the start it was deemed a raciallymotivated incident.
"It was classed as a robbery but the assault on the victim is included in a robbery classification so it would be wrong to assume that we did not treat the incident as an assault from day one.
"The evidence gathered was of a quality that the CPS decided was sufficient for seven suspects to be charged with racially aggravated wounding.
"Disappointingly, as the CPS have said, a key witness felt unable to give evidence and the prosecution could not proceed.
"We would like to extend our sympathies to the victim and his family."

In This Weeks News

Attack trial collapses as witness refuses to testify
Attack trial collapses as witness refuses to testify Read More
Bear necessities for tot Stephanie
Bear necessities for tot Stephanie Read More
Development battle is _not over_
Development battle is _not over_ Read More
Dewsbury's clampers are here to stay...
Dewsbury's clampers are here to stay... Read More
Hit with a brick, kicked and stabbed  the boy at the centre of the trial
Hit with a brick, kicked and stabbed the boy at the centre of the trial Read More
Kirklees staff protest over job cuts
Kirklees staff protest over job cuts Read More
Lastditch plea by youth workers fails
Lastditch plea by youth workers fails Read More
Local planning applications
Local planning applications Read More
Photo pervert strikes again
Photo pervert strikes again Read More
Reevell sets up allparty task force
Reevell sets up allparty task force Read More
Robbie hopes to inspire Batley youngsters
Robbie hopes to inspire Batley youngsters Read More
Sleepless mum in Weakest Link final
Sleepless mum in Weakest Link final Read More
Tasty treat at the Pathways centre
Tasty treat at the Pathways centre Read More
Three jobs in one...
Three jobs in one... Read More
Volunteers spruce up Northorpe
Volunteers spruce up Northorpe Read More
Where are jobs you promised?
Where are jobs you promised? Read More
Woman's arm fractured at bike workshop
Woman's arm fractured at bike workshop Read More
Your Letters
Your Letters Read More
Battyeford off to a good start in table tennis
Battyeford off to a good start in table tennis Read More
Bulldogs delighted after Brown joins strong squad
Bulldogs delighted after Brown joins strong squad Read More
Cleck RUFC improve as run continues
Cleck RUFC improve as run continues Read More
Dewsbury Rams renew stadium deal
Dewsbury Rams renew stadium deal Read More
Hattrick Sheridan's haul keeps U18s on song
Hattrick Sheridan's haul keeps U18s on song Read More
Joey G believes Terriers could be set to soar
Joey G believes Terriers could be set to soar Read More
Penalty loss heartbreak for Rangers
Penalty loss heartbreak for Rangers Read More
Shaw Cross's run is ended
Shaw Cross's run is ended Read More
Taylor FC move up table in HW
Taylor FC move up table in HW Read More
Trojans hang on for win
Trojans hang on for win Read More
Anns Angle
Anns Angle Read More
Ed Lines
Ed Lines Read More