December 11, 2020

HJ Talks About Abuse: Criminal proceedings – a survivor’s perspective

In this week's episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, our Partner, Alan Collins, talks to Nicole, a sexual abuse survivor about her experience of going to court when her abuser was prosecuted.

Nicole’s case is interesting not just because of her story and the experiences she shares with us, but for two particular reasons:

  1. There was a “Goodyear” hearing; and
  2. The judge made a Criminal Compensation Order

What is a “Goodyear” hearing?

This is the procedure by which a defendant can obtain an indication as to the sentence to be imposed upon a plea of guilty “and  is governed by the decision in R v Goodyear[2005] EWCA Crim 888). At the defendant’s request, the court can indicate the maximum sentence it would impose were the defendant to plead guilty at that stage of the proceedings. Proceedings should be held in open court.

In Nicole’s case, the defendant’s lawyer asked the judge what would the sentence be? Having been advised a suspended prison sentence, the defendant pleaded guilty and was duly sentenced.

In the podcast Nicole explains how she felt at the time, and offers her reflections.

Criminal Compensation orders

The criminal courts on sentencing offenders are required to consider making a compensation order which is defined in the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 (PCC(S)A 2000), to mean an order which requires the offender to pay compensation for any personal injury, loss or damage resulting from the offence.

Unfortunately, many, if not most victims of sexual abuse are not awarded compensation.

Nicole is something of a rarity because as she explains, she was awarded compensation.

We have raised with both IICSA and the UK Parliament the fact that so few orders are made, when clearly in many cases they should be.

The APPG Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse in its report said:

“Survivors’ experiences of court and applying for compensation” wrote:

The inquiry also heard how judges are not using their powers to issue Criminal Compensation Orders at the conclusion of a trial, with only 26 issued in 2017. Of those awarded, some were as low as £20 for the ‘rape of a male child under 13’.

We will be asking Westminster to tell us what progress has been made to remedy this glaring defect in the justice system.

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