Court backs CPS decision not to charge alleged killer of drowned boy

The mother of a 13-year-old boy who drowned in a river in Wales has said her son’s alleged killer has got away “scot free” after the high court dismissed a challenge to a decision by prosecutors not to bring charges over his death.

Alina Joseph, the mother of Christopher Kapessa, said: “The [Crown Prosecution Service] have concluded that there is enough evidence to prosecute him for manslaughter.”

She added: “When you take a child’s life … you should have to answer for your actions. But this individual – who took Christopher from us – gets away scot free.

“As I feared, this judgment confirms the criminal justice system and the CPS in particular value the welfare of the perpetrator over the life of Christopher and my family.”

Christopher drowned in July 2019 after he was allegedly pushed into the River Cynon in south Wales by a 14-year-old boy.

In July 2020, the CPS said there was evidence to support a prosecution for manslaughter, but it had decided it was not in the public interest to do so for what it described as a “foolish prank”.

In a hearing earlier this month, Michael Mansfield QC, representing Christopher’s family, told the high court in London the decision not to bring charges was legally flawed.

Mansfield said prosecutors had misunderstood the culpability of the teenager, giving his youth “undue weight”, and had contradicted their own guidance on homicide cases, which says that “subject to sufficiency of evidence, a prosecution is almost certainly required”.

But in a judgment handed down on Monday afternoon, Lord Justice Popplewell and Mr Justice Dove outlined the lengthy process undergone by prosecutors, including a victims’ right to review (VRR), in making the decision not to prosecute.

Backing the decision taken in the VRR to overrule the guidance, they said: “That conclusion is reinforced by the fact that the same prosecutorial decision was reached on the same public interest grounds by three other prosecutors with considerable experience and expertise.”

They added: “The impact of a prosecution on Q, a child, was clearly an important factor to be taken into account.”

Suresh Grover, of the Monitoring Group, who has coordinated Joseph’s campaign said: “The decision is a cruel blow for all of us. It is also a bitter reflection of the prevalence of racism inequality in the criminal justice system.

“The perverse judgment disregards Christopher’s right to life and gives more weight to inconvenience that may be suffered by the suspect if he was tried.

“How is that just and fair? The alarm bells have been rung forcing us to redouble our efforts to support Alina’s quest for justice.”

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