CPS North West Successes 2014

Whistleblowers' evidence used to convict care home workers for ill-treatment of elderly residents

Joanne Cunliffe, Acting Deputy Head of CPS North West Complex Casework Unit (CCU), and Sam Baxter, CCU Paralegal Officer, CPS North West

Three care workers were jailed and one given a community order at Preston Crown Court for the ill-treatment of elderly residents at a nursing home in Lancaster.

Lancashire police launched a complex multi-agency investigation after whistleblowers alerted the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of the ill-treatment. Joanne worked with the police to build the case, relying solely upon the evidence of the whistleblowers as the victims were elderly dementia patients. She reviewed over 6,000 pages of medical evidence plus thousands of pages of unused material. Sam supported the victims' families and witnesses, whilst dealing with numerous requests and queries from the defence throughout the trial.

A family member was able to read out his victim impact statement at court and he has since written to the police officers and prosecution team to thank them personally. He has also written to the Chief Constable and DPP to make them aware of the team's work. He said: "We wish to offer our sincere thanks for the invaluable work that the CPS and police have carried out for all the victims of the abuse. The support I received during and after the trial was exceptional."

The case was widely reported in local and national press, raising awareness of this type of case and the importance of individuals taking a stand against similar abuse and reporting it to the authorities. Howard Gough, Acting Head of CCU, said: "I would like to thank the team for their excellent work on this case. It is precisely because of such cases where we can really make a difference supporting vulnerable victims that we come to work every morning."

Justice done for 128 investors defrauded of over £5 million

Tracey Ames, Senior District Crown Prosecutor, and Alison Caldwell, Paralegal Officer, North West Regional Asset Recovery Team (RART), CPS North West

Malcolm Barber and Terry Warrington were jailed for eight and a half years at Preston Crown Court for defrauding 128 investors, many of whom were elderly, out of over £5 million following a four year investigation into two investment companies. Many investors lost tens of thousands of pounds of life savings and retirement funds.

Tracey and Alison worked on the prosecution and are working to recover the proceeds of the fraud.

Tracey worked closely with the North West RART financial investigator and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) before charge and throughout the case. She reviewed 12,000 pages of complex evidence plus considerable amounts of unused material from earlier FSA and HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) investigations. Tracey liaised with authorities in the Bahamas, Eire, Isle of Man and Guernsey to gather evidence and is already working on recovering proceeds of crime from Spain, Hungary and the USA. Alison prepared a series of six 500 page jury bundles for jurors, the Judge, Counsel and witnesses. She also provided extensive support to the investors at court, many of whom found the experience extremely traumatic.

Tracey said: "The prosecution team worked extremely hard to get justice for the investors in this complex and difficult case. Sadly, the investors, many of whom trusted Barber and Warrington, were let down by them. The victim impact statements demonstrate the devastating consequences of their actions."

The son of one investor said: "I would like to say a huge and sincere thank you to the entire team of investigators and prosecutors who worked so hard and so successfully against Malcolm Barber and Terry Warrington. Our family is very grateful."

Blackburn Family Jailed For 29 Years For Homophobic Honour Crime

Sophie Lorimer, Senior Crown Prosecutor, and Andrew Molloy, Paralegal Officer for CPS North West

Six family members were jailed for a total of 29 years at Preston Crown Court for their role in a violent attack on their sister's female partner in Blackburn town centre. It was pre-planned on social media as they objected to the relationship and wanted her to continue with an arranged marriage.

Sophie gave pre-charge advice to Lancashire police on two occasions at home after midnight. She worked with the police reviewing evidence, including telephone records and CCTV, successfully linking the final sibling who was involved in the pre-planning remotely from Pakistan. She used her in-depth knowledge of the case at several bail applications and some defendants remained in custody until sentence.

Andrew volunteered to handle the case to broaden his experience in honour crime cases. He diligently dealt with correspondence from 7 firms of solicitors. He served 600 pages of evidence including copious additional evidence, whilst complying with Judges Orders and prepared 27 jury bundles. The case was by now was so evidentially strong that the defendants ultimately had no real option but to plead guilty at the last hour.

DS Mark Haworth-Oates of Lancashire Police said: "The joint working between the police and CPS, from the outset and throughout, contributed significantly to the outcome of this case.  This is an example of how we should approach serious cases and shows how Sophie and Andrew's hard work and commitment went far beyond expectations."

John Dilworth Acting Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West said "The work of the whole Prosecution Team in this case demonstrates to all how we are committed to supporting victims and witnesses and bringing those guilty of such crimes to justice. I am grateful to the Lancashire Police for the investigation but I am particularly proud of Sophie and Andrew for their role in bringing these offenders to justice"

Ruth Mann Secures A Custodial Sentence Without The Victim

Ruth Mann, Domestic Violence Specialist Prosecutor for CPS North West

On 10 February 2014 Ruth Mann faced a challenging day at the Specialist Domestic Violence Court at Cities of Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court

Ryan Lillis appeared from custody for a first appearance for assaulting his partner. This was a high risk DV case whereby the defendant was already subject to a suspended sentence for previously assaulting the same victim.

The victim had declined to provide a statement to the police, but she had made a 999 call which lasted 15 minutes and the police officers had used a bodycam when they attended the call out.

The police provided three copies of the 999 tape and the bodycam footage in time for the hearing.  Ruth prepared the file and reviewed the evidence at lunchtime.She presented the case to the court and the defendant was left with no choice but to plead guilty on the full facts.

His 8 week suspended sentence was activated, and he was given another 16 weeks imprisonment to serve consecutively.

Ian Rushton, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor said: "Ruth did a sterling job on this case. In the face of the difficulties she faced, without any support from the complainant, her handling of the case resulted in a successful prosecution and a custodial sentence.

"Violence Against Women cases remain a top priority for the Service and Ruth has ensured that justice has been delivered in this troubling case."

Arsonist Jailed For Life

Katie Nicolson, Senior Crown Prosecutor and Jem Bullimore, Paralegal Officer for CPS North West

John Brown was jailed for life at Carlisle Crown Court for 16 arsons between March 2011 and January 2013 in Keswick, Cumbria.

Katie and Jem worked early mornings, late nights and through lunch breaks to build a strong case against the defendant, who had started the fires as an act of revenge against people or businesses who had believed had previously wronged him.

Katie advised Cumbria Police on what evidence was required before she made a charging decision, then worked closely with the Fire Service and the police to prepare a timeline chart to show that the pattern of arsons were unique.

After reviewing a vast amount of evidence, including statements from over 90 victims and witnesses and extensive police surveillance, she authorised charge. All the evidence was circumstantial; there was no forensic evidence to link him to the fires. Even though Brown had been on bail for 8 months prior to the charge, she successfully applied for him to be remanded in custody until the trial.

Jem ensured all the papers were served on time, in the face of technical difficulties after his computer crashed and he lost all his work, he had to start again. He prepared the jury bundles, and submitted a bad character application which captured the revenge aspect of the case.

Jem Bullimore said: "This was a very interesting case to help prepare, and I feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that I helped prevent a serial arsonist continue with his dangerous activity."

John Dilworth said: "John Brown is clearly a very dangerous man. It is pure good fortune that nobody was seriously injured or killed as a result of his actions. I am extremely proud of the work that Katie and Jem have done in helping to bring him to justice and to make our communities safer."

14 jailed for 103 years for prison van escape

Elisa Hopley, Senior Crown Prosecutor, and Helen Eddleston, Paralegal Officer, North West Complex Casework Unit

On 30 April 2013, Ryan Macdonald and Stevie McMullen, who had orchestrated an escape plan on mobile phones from their prison cells, were sprung from a GeoAmey van travelling from HMP Altcourse Merseyside to Manchester Crown Court.

Following one of the largest 'man hunts' by Greater Manchester Police, 13 others, including a solicitor's clerk, were charged with assisting the two men.

Elisa and Helen both worked extremely long days preparing the case against the defendants, resulting in several guilty pleas. Following an eight week trial the remaining defendants were found guilty, with just one being acquitted.

Elisa worked tirelessly giving pre-charge advice to the police, as the defendants were arrested one at a time. She appointed specialist counsel to advise on the charge against the solicitors clerk due to client/solicitors confidentiality issues.

Elisa reviewed reams of evidence, organised several case conferences and dealt with substantial disclosure requests from the numerous defence solicitors. The mosaic of circumstantial evidence had to be analysed for each defendant to illuminate the role that they played in the conspiracy. Elisa and Helen re-compiled the evidence each time another defendant was charged and ensured it was served within tight custody time limits.

One defendant fled to Spain, and was extradited back after the conclusion of the trial, but Helen and Elisa pulled out all the stops to get court dates fixed and the evidence served, resulting in him pleading guilty and being sentenced alongside his co-defendants.

John Dilworth, Acting Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor said: "Elisa and Helen worked tirelessly to put together a strong case against the defendants. They did so in the face of numerous challenges whilst ensuring that the evidence was served on time."

Helen said: "This was a very complex and exhausting case but all our hard work was worth it in light of this successful outcome."

Lawyer Secures Conviction On Domestic Violence Case Without The Victim Or Defendant

John Moran Specialist Domestic Violence Prosecutor for CPS North West

John Moran prosecuted the trial of James Roarty at Lancaster Magistrates court in March 2014. When the victim declined to give evidence against the defendant, Roarty left the court and did not return assuming that without the victim’s first-hand account he would not be convicted of the offences he faced.

However John was determined to proceed with the trial using the 999 call and the officer’s body cam footage which was filmed 20 minutes after the violent incident had taken place. Following extensive legal argument from the defence solicitor about the admissibility of the 999 call and the footage, John successfully opposed each of the arguments and the trial commenced.

At the end of the prosecution’s case, the defence made an application of no case to answer, on the basis of insufficient evidence but after John convinced the court that the victim had given compelling evidence on the body cam footage, and Roarty was found guilty in his absence of using violence to gain entry to premises and assaulting the victim.

A warrant was issued for Roarty’s arrest and he was later sentenced to a Community Order with Supervision, 80 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £50 compensation to the victim.

District Crown Prosecutor Ben Collinson said “John Moran took a robust approach with this case, which reflects how seriously the CPS take cases involving domestic abuse. In many cases victims are understandably anxious about attending court to give evidence. In the majority of cases the best evidence is from the victim in person and we would urge victims of domestic abuse to attend court, but whenever there is sufficient evidence we will make every effort to proceed to trial and bring offenders such as Mr Roarty to justice.”

Man Jailed For Possessing Indecent Images Of Children Thanks To Commendable Work Of Paralegal Officer

John Owen Paralegal Officer for CPS North West

Andrew Smith obtained indecent images of children with a very powerful computer and an unusual piece of software which used IP addresses from over 140 countries. He stored the images on five additional hard drives.

Smith refused to co-operate with the police and the court throughout the case. He applied for bail on numerous occasions, even though he claimed he did not know where his passport was and supplied the court with false or unsuitable addresses. John worked closely with the CPS Bail Clerks and the police to successfully prevent the defendant being granted bail on each occasion.

John arranged a case conference with prosecution counsel and the police which he attended as the sole CPS representative in the absence of the lawyer. He also worked closely with the Officer In the Case (OIC), whom he always kept up to date on the progress of the case.

Smith pleaded guilty to the offences but then later attempted to vacate his plea. The application was refused and the case was listed for sentence at extremely short notice. John quickly arranged for the OIC to bring an encrypted laptop to court so that the sentencing judge could view the images before passing a custodial sentence.

Ian Rushton, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West said: “This was an unusual and complicated case for both the CPS and the police. John’s hard work has been commendable, resulting in an 18 month prison sentence and a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for this defendant. John’s time and effort were also well appreciated by police colleagues who have praised his knowledgeable and thoughtful input.”

Updated on 29 October 2014