Thursday 11th November 2021 was the court date for Public Child Protection Wales. This was a hearing brought before the judge by South Wales Police and was regarding a demonstration the girls organised on the 28th February 2021. The demonstration was to raise awareness regarding mandatory comprehensive sexual education in schools for children from age three, which at the time of the demonstration was being voted on by the Senedd. This vote unfortunately did pass, this was a decision made by the Welsh Parliament with no public consultation. The purpose of the demonstration was to send a message to the Senedd that members of the Welsh Community were aware of their plans and were very unhappy.
Before the hearing, the girls from Public Child Protection Wales highlighted a number of discrepancies in the case, from incorrect dates and contradictory statements. It is normal practice in court cases for persons accused of committing offences to be shown all of the evidence against them, this had not happened in this case.
From the moment we arrived in the Cardiff court building, there were many things happening that did not seem right. As soon as we arrived in court, the prosecution had approached the girls asking them to confirm the correct date and trying to show them the evidence just before going into court. This simply seemed as though he was frantically trying to correct all the inaccuracies in his case.
When the case started, the prosecution requested the date change be recognised by the judge, to which the judge had many questions “Why are you making the application today, on the day of the trial?”, “When did the CPS receive this file?”, “So why wasn’t it changed then?” “If it has been reviewed, why are you only now applying for this on the day of the court?” and this went on. After the points were made, the judge agreed to accept the application.
The prosecution started by outlining his case based on Public Child Protection Wales organised a gathering of more than 30 people outdoors for a protest, and confirms after being asked by the judge the evidence he will provide is the body worn camera footage of two police officers.
First Witness called was PC Jamie Heathcote and when asked by the prosecution what time he arrived, he confirmed “1230”. The demonstration was due to start at 1200. The police officer also confirmed a rough number of “twenty to twenty five” people in attendance. The Judge asked the question “How many of those were children” to which PC Heathcote replied, “I would say a mixed group”. They then proceeded to show the first video evidence. This video shows the moment PC Heathcote arrived at the demo, the video shows roughly fifteen to twenty people. Adel points out on this video that there are many more people out and about in Cardiff bay, to which, PC Heathcote agrees. The prosecution then begins to question PC Heathcote. PC Heathcote confirmed that the crowd steadily grew throughout the demonstration to upwards of 70 persons at any one time. He then went on to say how he could not differentiate between who attended specifically for the demonstration, and others out walking at the location, just out on the day, but curious what the ladies had to say who stopped to watch. PC Heathcote was asked “Were there, at this time over 30 adults?” by the prosecution but was sharply pulled up by the judge who called it “completely leading”, “You’re completely leading him” and “I don’t want a reply” The judge said to PC Heathcote “You didn’t count them did you”? PC Heathcote replied “No”.
After the video evidence, the judge asked the girls if they take issue with their demonstration being called a protest, he asked “Was there was any bad behaviour or shouting, its education.” And PCP Wales agreed.
Kim then proceeded to ask PC Heathcote questions and asked if he could be wrong in his estimations in numbers at the demonstration to which he replied “I wouldn’t say so, there was a large crowd there participating in the demonstration” The judge intervened at this point for clarity on if everyone listening were ‘participating’ in the demonstration.
Kim pointed out that Cardiff Bay was a really sunny day that day, and asked PC Heathcote how many people were there that day, PC Heathcote explained it would be hard to give an estimate but “lots of people.” The Judge confirms on a sunny Sunday there would be hundreds down there. Kim continued to ask questions “how do you differentiate between the Cardiff Bay crowd and our crowd?” and pointed out that “Numbers are important in this charge”. PC Heathcote then went on to say how there was no discouragement for those persons to not be part of that gathering, by being there, they were part of the gathering. Kim asks if he went and spoke to all of the public there and asked them to wear masks and social distance PC Heathcote said he asked his team to go and remind people to do this. The judge pointed out that in February, there was no obligation for the public to wear masks on the 28th February 2021, and they also had a right to be there.
Adel asked PC Heathcote “At any point did you hear myself or any of the team encourage people to come and join the demonstration” PC Heathcote replied “No I didn’t”.
Once the prosecution and the defendants had finished with the questions, the judge had some questions, and asked PC Heathcote how he assessed who was part of the group, and who were passers by, PC Heathcote explained that with PCP Wales having a PA system, anyone who appeared to be listening, he classed as taking part. The judge pointed out that a PA reaches 60, 70, 80 metres, and asked if people that far away were listening? were they attending the gathering? to which PC Heathcote replied saying that it would be the people in close proximity to the steps. The judge asked why the other lady named wasn’t in court and also asked why none of the attendees of the demonstration were in court, PC Heathcote explained that they thought best to just charge the organisers.
Next Witness called was PC Darren Johns. PC Johns was asked similar questions but some of these contradicted the previous witness. When asked how many people were there when he arrived at 1230, PC Johns replied “It was already quite busy so approx 60 to 70 people”. The prosecution continued to ask questions based around the number of people in attendance and after asking “How many people would you say were in attendance”. The judge stepped in at this point and said “You’re asking him to make the decision I’m going to make” and then asked PC Johns “Are you an expert in crowds”, PC Johns replies “I’m afraid not sir” Judge turned to prosecution and said “There we are”. Kim also pointed out to PC Johns that he had said at the time he arrived there were 70 people there. Kim then pointed out that the video filmed at 1330 shows otherwise.
PC Johns stated that he arrived at 1230 and stayed for an hour, Adel questioned him based on this, reminding him of the previous footage which contradicts his statement and also reminded him that they were “Charged” at 1430. She then asked if he is the same officer who charged them, to which PC Johns answered “Yes”. Prosecution then played a video showing PC Johns telling the girls the offence they are reported for and cautioning them, but the judge stopped the video. He wanted to know why this video wasn’t in the prosecution’s case and why have they purposely waited to bring this up. The judge asked the girls if they accept they were read their caution and they agreed. PC Johns was then released from the witness box.
Next to take the stand was Kim and the prosecution played a video of Kim saying to PC Johns “We want about 100 fines” leading on to him trying to use this to prove they wanted more than 100 people. The prosecution knows that Kim cannot be fined 100 times for one demonstration, and also knows that if 100 people in attendance received fixed penalty tickets, they are not her fines. From this point, each question asked to Kim seemed very desperate, at one point the prosecution almost tried to blame the girls for the sunny weather on the day. He argued that they should have discouraged passersby from attending by “Not having the demonstration”. This is clearly something he can not ask given the fact that at this point, a demonstration of 30 or less was allowed.
The judge retired to consider all the evidence and when he returned, he stated that although there may have been 70+ people there at times, there is simply no evidence of who any of the people were, and whether they were there specifically as part of the same ‘gathering’ there is no ‘flyer’ to show what they were trying to say, there is no evidence to show they organised over 30 people to attend this demo. As the result of lack of evidence he acquitted Public Child Protection Wales.
This was a great victory for PCP Wales. What was highlighted in this trail is the CPS and South Wales Police presented a very poorly constructed case based on no evidence. It also shows that if you go against the establishment, you are likely to end up in court.