May 20th, 2014: DOMESTIC HOMICIDE campaigners have welcomed a change in Crown Prosecution Service policy after a new guidance note was issued following meetings with a victim's family lobbying.
The campaign team from the Joanna Simpson Foundation welcomed the news and declared the measure a ‘huge step in the right direction’ for victims' families.
The Foundation has been campaigning for changes that improve the way the CPS handles prosecutions of cases of domestic homicide.
The Foundation was set up in the memory of Joanna Brown whose killer was convicted of manslaughter despite digging a grave ahead of the attack and burying her body in Windsor Great Park. Her killer claimed diminished responsibility and the trial deteriorated into a trial of character of both the accused and his victim.
Hetti Barkworth Nanton, Chair of the Foundation commented: “I am delighted that the CPS has taken this important step forward to strengthen the way domestic violence homicide trials are carried out.
Together with Diana Parkes, Jo’s mother and Patron of the Foundation, we have been campaigning for more than 2 years and met with senior members of the judiciary, MPs, prosecutors, and the police, to press for a serious review of the way such prosecutions are managed.
As the family and friends of Joanna we were all made to suffer twice, first through the deadly attack and secondly in a traumatic court case.
Although nothing can bring Jo back, we have decided to honour her name by campaigning to try and prevent other people suffering as we had to. This is a huge step in the right direction.
We will continue to campaign to reform our outdated murder laws and raise funds to support programmes which help children who have suffered at the hands of domestic abuse."
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “In some cases of homicide linked to domestic violence, the defence will seek to avoid a conviction for murder by distorting the truth about the character of the victim and defendant. Prosecutors should always challenge these attempts and this new guidance will help ensure that they are fully prepared to do so.
The Crown Prosecution Service is ready to listen to the concerns of those whose lives have been affected by crime and I am grateful to the family and friends of Joanna Simpson for raising this important issue. This dialogue has led to changes in our guidance to help prosecutors meet the challenges in these cases.”