Monday, 7 April 2014

The trial that never happened

The following is a note on what was meant to be first day of trial. The note was taken by one of my solicitors.


IN THE CROWN COURT AT SOUTHWARK

BETWEEN:—


Prosecution 
-v- 


ELEANOR DE FREITAS 

Defendant 


ATTENDANCE NOTE 


06.04.2014 



For: Mention, Court 10

Attendance: Prosecutor – Simon Spence QC (SSQC)

Defence – Mary Poku (MP)

Result: Indictment endorsed with the death of the defendant by suicide;

Case closed until further evidence to the contrary.


1. Arrived at 09.00. Hearing put back until 10.30

2.  I returned to wait outside of court 10, where MP and the representative of the defence solicitors were also waiting to enter court. Upon entering the court, I was asked quite abruptly by the defence representative who I was? I explained that I was a member of the public. We then entered the court.

3. Upon waiting in the public gallery the defence representative approached me and stated, ‘I apologise for being rude earlier, but this is an awful case in which there is a girl on trial who should not have been on trial and she has taken her life.’ I acknowledged this comment and the defence representative returned to the defence bench.

4. 10.31 – SSQC then opened the matter by explaining that tragically, on Friday, the defendant, Ms Eleanor de Freitas, had taken her life. SSQC, on behalf of the crown, offered his condolences to the family of Ms de Freitas.

5. SSQC directed HHJ Taylor to the appropriate page in Archbold dealing with how to certify a defendant’s death. He explained that usually you would require sworn evidence from a police officer who had identified the body, however that did not seem to be required anymore. SSQC explained that he had spoken to the coroner’s office this morning who confirmed that the police had attended the mortuary to confirm the body was that of Ms Eleanor de Freitas.

6. HHJ Taylor asked MP whether she had provided notification to the CPS. MP explained that she had and that she would like to add that PC Tayling and PC Tucker attended the family home, along with a consultant and paramedic, on Friday where Ms de Freitas was confirmed dead at 14.57. She was found by her mother hanging. Ms De Freitas had left a note, found by her mother, explaining that she had felt ‘trapped by the system’. Her mother called the police and the officers already stated had attended. These officers later attended the mortuary to confirm that the body was that of Ms de Freitas.

7. HHJ Taylor confirmed that there was continuity between the prosecution and defence to confirm that this evidence was reliable.

8. HHJ Taylor ordered that the Indictment be endorsed with ‘death by suicide’ and will have no legal effect until further evidence is adduced to the contrary. The file will be closed.

9. HHJ Taylor said that this was a tragic case for all concerned and offered the court’s condolences to the family.

10. 10.36 - Close

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