A Bradford woman whose son died from a stab wound has featured in a new research report highlighting the plight of families affected by murder acquittals.
Margaret McKendrick, of Eccleshill, has been part of the Justice After Acquittal (JAA) group, which has campaigned for the last seven years for victims’ families to be given the legal right to appeal against court decisions.
Her son, Dave Black, a Bradford roofer, died in July 2006, aged 40, after the main vein in his abdomen was cut by a knife during an argument at a woman’s home in Little Horton.
A woman was subsequently cleared of his murder and manslaughter by a Crown Court jury.
Mrs McKendrick has attended a specially-organised seminar at the House of Commons in London at which the JAA-commissioned report by Dr Darren Thiel, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology at the University of Essex, entitled, Double Injustice, Double Trauma, was discussed.
“The group is making further progress each year,” she said. “The work is extremely important, as I had no help whatsoever after my son’s death, which made the situation a lot harder. I will continue to carry on this fight, as I’ve never felt I received justice.”
Dr Thiel’s report described the experiences of 15 family members from across the UK, including Mrs McKendrick, who have gone through the killing of a loved one, a murder trial and the subsequent acquittal of the suspect.
The research supports JAA’s call for the implementation of a set of national minimum standards and a proposed agreement between the Crown Prosecution Service and police to work together to offer support and identify ways forward for families following an acquittal.
“These families feel abandoned by the current system,” said Dr Thiel. “It is all about recognition for their loved one when there is a conviction, and a sense of abandonment when there is no conviction. Arguably, when there is no conviction they need more support, but in reality this does not happen.”
The JAA group, co-founded by Carole Longe and Ann Roberts in 2006, says that while it acknowledges support for victims’ families from the Criminal Justice System has improved, reforms have not yet gone far enough.
It hopes to get all police forces across the country to adopt the NMS as guidance.