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Judge slams prosecution after assault trial dropped

Robert Foy, of Accrington, was accused of assaulting his partner

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Photo: Clara Molden/PA Wire

A Judge has criticised prosecutors as an assault trial was abandoned because they failed ensure the complainant attended court.

Robert Harold Foy, of Sandy Lane, Accrington, was charged with section 18 wounding with intent and ABH against his partner.

The 57-year-old denied charge and faced trial at Burnley Crown Court.

However, the case was dropped after the complainant refused to attend court and answer a witness summons and Mr Foy was cleared by the court.

He had spent six months in custody on remand.

Walking free from the dock, Mr Foy said the word ‘justice’ and thumped his chest when found not guilty.

When the complainant was served with a witness summons she told officers ‘I won’t be signing it. I’m not going’, the court heard.

Prosecutor Claire Larton requested an adjournment after police could not find her on the trial day, but Judge Andrew Woolman refused.

Andrea Lock, defending, said Mr Foy faced a ‘serious allegation, but evidentially the matter is extremely weak and stands and falls on the victim’s testimony’.

Judge Woolman said: “Despite those very clear words from the complainant of her refusal to cooperate with the court process the prosecution have done nothing further to secure attendance.

"In the meantime the defendant, who faces these serious charges, has been remanded in custody.

“This isn’t the first case where the prosecution have sadly completely failed to link up systems to ensure that the witnesses they need attend court.

“I will not allow the prosecution any further adjournment. I make that decision conscious that a serious allegation may have to be dropped.”

After the hearing, the Crown Prosecution Service said they noted the judge’s comments.

A spokesperson said: “The circumstances of each individual case are different and decisions about how to proceed if a complainant does not support a prosecution are considered carefully.

“Prosecutors take into account the nature and seriousness of the allegations, whether it is possible to proceed without their evidence.

“We respect the judge’s decision not to allow an adjournment of the case after hearing the prosecution and defence arguments.”

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