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Janick Fielding Secures Acquittal of Defendant Charged with False Imprisonment and ABH and Assault

Janick Fielding represented a father who took the law into his own hands after he and his family had endured months of racial abuse at the hands of a gang of delinquent youths.

The defendant’s home had been the focus of numerous attacks, with local children banging on his doors and windows and shouting racist obscenities through the letterbox, terrifying his wife and infant child. After hoping for several months that they would eventually desist, he realised this was not to be. One Friday evening during Ramadan in 2019, just as he and his wife were about to break their fast, there came the first of the evening’s disturbances. Having spotted the gang approaching for a second time, the defendant had opened the door and chased one of them. It was alleged by the Crown that together with his brother he beat up the thirteen year old he had later caught, after failing to run him down with his car. Despite a conversation about putting the youth in the boot, they told him to get into the back of his car, whereupon he was locked in and driven around the area, subjected to further assaults, generally terrified and then dumped at the roadside near his mother’s home later that evening, but only following calls to the youth’s father stating that the boy would be killed for what he and his friends had been doing. There was medical and photographic evidence of multiple injuries.

Arrested later that evening for kidnap, the defendant gave numerous confessions in interview; accepting assaults, accepting driving the youth around in his car and accepting calling the injured boy’s friends and family to make further threats. He denied that it was a kidnap, but little else. He asserted too that he had acted alone. A year later, despite the service of CCTV evidence, the defendant maintained his stance, which was not a defence to any of the counts on the indictment, in a brief defence statement.

Janick was instructed on the eve of the trial, took instructions at court, declined the Crown’s offer of a plea deal on day one and rewrote the entire defence statement on day two; resiling from the interview, asserting that the defendant’s brother was in fact there and was responsible for any loss of control and resultant injury, albeit the defendant had slapped the youth once, and denying any conversations that had previously been admitted to have occurred in the car during the subsequent carriage. It was further advanced that the youth and his father had concocted much of the detail of their account to cover for the youth’s overtly racist behaviour and that the defendant had lied only to protect his brother and because he had not wanted to bother the police with the full story of the preceding anti-social racist behaviour, something he had given a substantially inconsistent account about in interview. On the third day counsel drafted an application to preclude cross-examination of the defendant at any time save the beginning of the next available morning session, on account of the unfairness that would otherwise be caused by experienced prosecuting counsel being allowed to cross-examine a man who was fasting, caring for a new born during the night and otherwise substantially disadvantaged. The Learned Judge acceded to the application. In relation to the crucial background, counsel identified four witnesses in support of the defendant at the beginning of the second week and had them all proofed and called to court in less than 24 hours.

The defendant was a senior manager at a well known media company, had a second daughter born ten days before trial, and faced several years in prison on conviction, together with the loss of his career and his home.

On the eighth day of a trial that was supposed to run for no more than four, the jury acquitted unanimously.

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