Christopher Kapessa: Call for new hearing after review refused

March 3, 2021

The family of a 13-year-old boy who died after being pushed into a river want an open hearing after a High Court review into his death was refused.

Christopher Kapessa, from Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf, died in July 2019. 

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) found there was enough evidence to prosecute the boy who pushed Christopher into the River Cynon, but did not pursue the case further. 

An application for a full judicial review was dismissed last week.

The CPS’s decision not to pursue a prosecution led to it, and South Wales Police, being accused of institutional racism. 

In a letter to the family last February, the CPS cited the age of the child suspect, their maturity and good school record, and said it was not in the public interest to pursue a prosecution.

The decision was upheld by the CPS in July after a review. 

In October 2020, Christopher’s mother, Alina Joseph, submitted an application to the High Court to review the CPS’s decision not to charge the suspect. 

Ms Joseph’s application for a full judicial review hearing was refused last week by a High Court judge, the CPS has confirmed.

Christopher Kapessa
Christopher Kapessa’s body was found in a river on 1 July

Lawyers working on behalf of Ms Joseph said the decision not to hold a review hearing was based on “only a cursory examination of the paper documents”. 

They also called for the permission hearing – to decide if a full judicial review should take place – to be held orally, so the “facts and legal position can be explained more fully in open court”. 

Ms Joseph said: “We will not rest until we get justice for my son. I hope the High Court will not only listen to us properly but also ensures that we are given a full and proper disclosure of all the CPS documents. 

“Why are The CPS so afraid to be transparent and open? They have failed me, and they continue to fail Black families as victims, witnesses and suspects across the country. 

“I am seeking justice not revenge. I just don’t want another Black child and family to be failed by the system”.

Daniel Cooper, representing the family, said: “We believe that we have a strong case to persuade the High Court for a full hearing. 

“Public interest has to allow the possibility of open revelation of the truth through the court process both to ensure open accountability, and also the healing of public concern or a bereaved family’s trauma.”

Suresh Grover, director of civil rights campaigning organisation The Monitoring Group, said the family was being “failed” by the criminal justice system. 

He said: “I am appalled that another black family is being inflicted with the same pain and hardship that the Stephen Lawrence family had to endure over decades. The people of Wales need to wake up to this reality.”

In a statement outlining its original decision not to prosecute anyone in connection with the death, the CPS said it recognised it would “be upsetting for the family who may feel the suspect’s life has been prioritised over Christopher’s”.

But officials added: “We have applied our legal test to the evidence and I hope they can understand how and why we came to the decision.”

Source: BBC NEWS, 3 March 2021

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