Part 2: Going to court- my story, my experience, my justice

The day of court I woke up feeling pretty normal considering what I was about to go through. I slept ok, I ate my breakfast and held a normal conversation with my family. It wasn’t until I walked into the building once going through security when I turned around to see all his friends. It hit me like a ton of bricks. This was real. After 7 months of backwards and forth with police it was actually happening. I don’t know why but I didn’t think anyone would be there supporting him, in my head I was so sure how could anyone turn up and support someone that had been abusive to a woman.

The courts have victim services. These are generally volunteers that have private areas where victims and the other witnesses can wait before going into court. The sweet lady that showed me the tour of the court previously quickly grabbed me when I broke down once entering the building and rushed me into the back room. I sat there trying to catch my breath with two of my friends. My prosecutor met me in this room to introduce himself to me to let me know he would be my legal representative for the trial. The officer in your case (for me, Detective Page) will also and if necessary accompany you into court if you’re vulnerable. The Officer will also have copies of your statement so you can refresh your memory or play video evidence for you.

The judge had soon asked me to come in. It was my time to walk into the court and see him. As I entered the room it was completely silent apart from the rustling of papers. I stood up and promised the judge I would tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. As I sat down I faced him sitting there in the glass box. I thought I would see him and have a rush of love and over whelming feelings for him but instead I felt completely different. He wasn’t the person I once looked up to, he was no longer my hero. I looked at him and felt so much disgust that he had continued to cause me this much pain by putting me through all this.

I was challenged by his lawyer which of course was frustrating and upsetting but I managed to keep my cool and carried on to tell the truth and correct them when need be. It was an utterly surreal moment to be honest. Here I was sitting in a room looking at my parents, my friends feeling so much sadness that I was putting them through this also. It couldn’t have been easy for them to hear the things that were said. I had a whole load of mixed emotions. I was listening to a bunch of strangers talk about my life, my private messages between us which some made me upset and sad. I looked at him and thought how could you have let this happen.

After my witnesses had sat there and spoke I felt so thankful and proud. These were friends I lost during my relationship that came forward. Obviously I had just experienced how nerve wracking it was sitting up there, to see them now being questioned they did so incredibly well.

It was then his time. I should have known he would have tried anything possible to get out of this but I couldn’t quite believe what I was about to hear. He claimed he didn’t speak English. I mean, I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me so much but I gasped so loud the judge actually told everyone to keep the noise down. He had an interpreter next to him to which he didn’t need at all as he speaks fluent English, as good as mine! I on the other hand can’t say a single word in Italian so it was very clear to see for the judge from the get go he was a liar. Of course he denied everything and his friends told the judge I was the liar.

It was a long day but finally there was a verdict. There was a lot of key evidence especially one piece that came from his housemate that heard me screaming for help one night. It also came to the judge’s attention and mine this wasn’t the first time he was arrested for assault. He in fact had slammed his ex partner’s head against a lamppost to which she later decided to drop the case. I found myself now not just doing it for me, I was there also for this girl I had never met.

Should there be a guilty verdict the court may or may not sentence on the same day. For more serious offence it is normally at a later date. In my case he thankfully was found guilty and the sentencing was then to be given 3 weeks later. I didn’t feel a sense of happiness as it was no shock to me, I always knew he was guilty.

If you would like to attend court on the date of sentencing you can or the police will inform you of the result straight after. I attended court this day.

I woke up anxious and worried. In my head I thought he’ll get a slap on the wrist and community service. The room was busy with people watching which is allowed. My prosecutor stood up and read out loud to the court my impact statement. I made sure to go into every little detail with exactly how he made me feel as a human being. How it had affected my work and relationships with loved ones.

As the judge told him to stand he went into detail how he believed I was genuine. He went on to explain how he found it hard to believe someone could physically do the things he did to me and how he took my life away from me. He wanted to give him the maximum sentence he could as well as a restraining order for when he was released. The restraining order was a minimum of 5 years imprisonment for any form of contact on release. I sat and cried my eyes in my friends arms as Detective Page (pictured with me in this post) turned around to give me a nod as if to say he’s going down.

There was no remorse from him. He didn’t even look at me once. I hugged and cried my eyes out to my prosecutor and thanked him for all that he had done. He then told me ‘now you can finally move on and get on with your life Laura.’

Once he was released it was not long until we went to crown court for the witness intimidation offence. To which he was found guilty and put back in prison. Should the defendant be sentenced to prison then you will be informed in advance of their release, to which I was.

Sharing this, I hope gives you strength to know you are not alone and sheds light into what really happens the moment you go into that courtroom. No one can prepare you for the emotions you will feel- we will all deal differently with it, but hopefully this helps you be prepared for the day in a way that I never had preparation for.

I hope you find this blog post useful, and always feel free to get in touch with us at I am Arla.

Love, Laura x

For advice, guidance and support please get in touch with the following:

- https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/

- https://www.womensaid.org.uk/the-survivors-handbook/police-and-the-cps/

- https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/gender-violence/domestic-violence-and-abuse/


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