Double jeopardy! - Family begs to drop case as long wait for justice breaks sexually assaulted child
The relatives of a 15-year-old boy who attempted suicide four years after he was reportedly buggered are livid and blaming the creaking justice system for the issues facing the child.
After numerous court visits, the still-traumatised child has begged his family to walk away from the case, leaving the man who allegedly assaulted him to walk free.
According to the relatives, despite the accused being quickly arrested and charged, the boy attended court more than 10 times before the preliminary enquiry into the buggery charge was held last year. The case was then sent to the Circuit Court for trial.
"I could not believe that such a case would have taken so long to be completed, and the case was really pressuring, not only for my son, but the entire family," said the boy's father.
He told our news team that the boy, who was molested when he was 11 years old, has been showing signs of depression ever since.
"He is withdrawn. He hardly speaks to us and he cries all the time, and even his schoolwork is severely affected," the father disclosed.
"Many times I tell him that we all love him and it was not his fault that he was sexually molested, but he blames himself and says he does not want to live any longer. I got counselling for him, but it seems it does not really help him.
"I was shocked in September when a man called me, saying he spotted my son climbing a tree with a piece of rope to hang himself. The man encouraged him to come down from the tree and he was hospitalised for a few days.
"He is getting counselling now, but I am still afraid that he will try to end his life, so we have to make sure he is not left alone."
TIRED OF GOING TO COURT
The frustrated father said his son has declared that he is tired of going to court so many times.
"He said he did not want to continue with the case because it was stressing him out. I could see that the case was really affecting him, so I told the prosecutor that my son did not want to come back to court.
"We were told the case could not be dropped, but I insisted that it be done for the sanity of my son, and the case was dropped. I did not want the accused man to go free but I think that I had to consider the trauma my son went through each time he went to court and had to face his attacker," said the father.
According to the father, he and his son went to the Circuit Court three times before the case was dropped.
He said each time he went to court, the case was put off for various reasons.
"The truth is a child should not have to attend court so many times in a case of that nature, so I am blaming the justice system for forcing us to drop the case," he stressed.
"Now, I wonder if I did not drop the case - after three attendance at the Circuit Court - when that case would have been tried," he queried.
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn admitted that there were a few cases in which she had to enter conditional nolle prosequi (temporary stay of prosecution), where children are the complainants.
She said such orders were made in cases where the children have serious mental-health issues and the parents made special requests for the trial to be stayed.
However, Llewellyn warned that a conditional nolle prosequi does not put an end to a criminal case. She said as soon as the child's health improves, the trial could proceed.