Judge defends sex victim's arrest in Abid Miskeen case
- 5 March 2014
- From the section Leeds & West Yorkshire
A judge has defended his decision to order a 15-year-old sex abuse victim to be locked up overnight when she disappeared from court.
Judge Robert Bartfield was speaking as he sentenced Abid Miskeen, 32, to seven years in prison at Bradford Crown Court for sexual activity with a child.
Earlier in the three-day trial, the girl disappeared when she was supposed to give evidence.
The judge said he had to ensure that the justice system worked.
Judge Bartfield agreed to a request from prosecutors to have the girl and other absent witnesses arrested by police and detained until she gave her evidence the next day.
He acknowledged "some concern has been expressed about this".
But sentencing Miskeen, of Little Horton Road, Bradford, the judge said to him: "What's plain is that had she not been present to give evidence, you would have walked free from the court."
The judge said that although the girl was technically a prosecution witness, she was required to be at court as part of the defence case.
Charlotte Kenny, defending, confirmed that if prosecutors had not produced the complainant to give evidence, she would have made submissions that Miskeen could not have had a fair trial.
Judge Bartfield said: "For better or worse that's the way our system works."
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said he wanted "an urgent explanation" from Chief Constable Mark Gilmore about the girl's treatment.
He said: "There appears to have been a serious failing in the care and support provided to the victim."
Adam Pemberton, assistant chief executive of Victim Support, said: "The spectacle of a child spending the hours before she gives evidence against her abuser locked up in cells at a police station and at court is nothing short of Dickensian and must never be allowed to happen again."