Friday, March 28, 2014



Today, Scission Prison Friday, goes to England where a young woman may, I say, may be on the verge of some much needed good news. 

Better late, then never.

Stacey Hyde was seventeen when she killed a man.  No one disputes that.  However, Stacey Hyde does not belong in jail...which is right where she is.  

At the time of her arrest Stacey was an adolescent with a history of mental health issues.  After she was convicted, a psychiatrist specializing in adolescence diagnosed Hyde as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The psychiatric reports also suggest she was suffering from emerging borderline personality disorder and depression at the time of the incident, and from post-  traumatic stress disorder at the time of the trial.   During the summer of 2009, she tried to hang herself from the curtain rail in the shower, and to drown herself in the bath. Two days before Francis was killed, she was seen by a community psychiatric nurse who recorded that she was at risk of serious self-harm or suicide.

Did I mention the man she killed, Vince Francis, was the violent partner of her friend.  Did I mention Stacey was scarred to death at the time of the "crime?"

As the Guardian writes:

On the evening of 3 September 2009, when Hyde was 17, she went out drinking with Francis's girlfriend, Holly Banwell. They returned to the flat where Banwell had been living with Francis, 34, and Hyde passed out on the bed.

In the early hours of the morning Hyde says she awoke to hear Banwell calling for help. Hyde doesn't clearly remember what happened next, but she seems to have run to Banwell's aid, and a fight ensued between her and Francis. During the course of the incident, Banwell called 999, and described what was going on, screaming: "My boyfriend is beating my friend," and later adding: "They are fighting."

The tussle spilled into the communal hall; a neighbour who was disturbed by the noise later testified that she saw Francis pull Hyde by the hair. Hyde allegedly kicked out at Francis, broke free and ran back into the flat, reappearing with a knife. Francis suffered 17 knife wounds, including two or three to the back, and was fatally injured in what the police described as a frenzied attack. When the police arrived, Hyde sobbed: "He tried to kill me ... I had to help Holly."

During her trial, where Stacey plead not guilty on the grounds of self defense, the prosecution admitted to 27 separate incidents of domestic violence between Banwell and Francis, and also said there was evidence of previous violence committed by Banwell against other women.

Hyde's "only crime was to react disproportionately, out of fear, to a man's violent attack on her and her friend," according to Justice for Women.   

Again, from the Guardian,

Harriet Wistrich, lawyer and co-founder of Justice for Women, said the case was important because of what it illustrates about the problems many young women face today – rape, eating disordersself-harm – problems for which they rarely receive proper help and assistance, and for which they are sometimes blamed. These issues disproportionately affect women, and are often either overlooked or dismissed in what Justice for Women describe as a "male-dominated criminal justice system".

A spokeswoman for Justice for Women said, 

“The law at the time meant that Stacey could not use the fear of serious violence as a defence. The law was changed in October 2010, just months after her conviction. If Stacey’s case had been tried under the new law, she may not have been convicted of murder.”

“At the time of her trial Stacey had not been diagnosed with ADHD and borderline personality disorder which make her easily led.

“Before the trial she was housed with offenders who had already been convicted.”

Ms Hyde’s team claim that these convicts “coached” her in how to speak while in the dock – even holding a mock trial.

“Stacey didn’t understand that she shouldn’t talk about her case with other prisoners. They were winding her up and making her behave in a way that made her come across unsympathetically to the jury.

“Had her condition been recognised, she would have had assistance from an intermediary at the trial that could have prevented this.

“Stacey had suffered abuse during her life and everything came to a head that day.

“Stacey shouldn’t be in prison.”

The following is from Justice for Women.

 Stacey Hyde new hearing to take place in the autumn.

Following Stacey's hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on 26th March, the court has referred Stacey's case to the full court (three judges) for further consideration, so there will be a longer and more in-depth hearing some time in the autumn. This hearing will decide on both whether Stacey will have permission to appeal (the court decided that they need more evidence to decide this finally) and Stacey's appeal itself. (This is called a "rolled-up" hearing.)

This is good news - it means that the court feel that Stacey has a chance to appeal successfully, and hopefully it means that Stacey is a step closer to freedom.

In the early hours of 4th September 2009, Stacey Hyde remembers waking up to hear her friend Holly screaming for help.  In the frightening events that followed, which Stacey does not clearly remember, Stacey stabbed and killed her friend Holly’s partner Vince Francis.
When the police arrived Stacey was very distressed, sobbing and saying “he tried to kill me…I had to help Holly…he was going to kill her…I thought he would kill me…”.  She was found to have injuries, some of which were consistent with previous self-harm, and some of which were consistent with a forceful struggle with Vince.
Stacey was only 17 at the time of the offence, Vince was twice her age, and it was acknowledged by the prosecution that there had been 27 separate incidents of domestic violence between him and Holly, and that he had also been violent towards his previous girlfriend.  A 999 call made at the time of the incident records Holly screaming, “…my boyfriend is beating my friend… I need the police ASAP”.  She is then heard saying “they are fighting”, and then she is heard screaming that “Stacey has a knife and has stabbed him”.
On the 8th March 2010, at the age of only 18, Stacey was convicted of murdering Vince Francis, and sentenced to life imprisonment.   
This is a miscarriage of justice.  Stacey is not a murderer.
Stacey was tried under an old law that does not allow for the loss of control caused by a fear of serious violence.  The law has since changed, (partly as a result of previous campaigns by Justice for Women). If Stacey’s case had been tried under the new law, she may not have been convicted of murder. 
Please support Stacey’s fight for justice. She was a vulnerable adolescent, who had suffered from a history of mental health problems and sexual violence.  Her only crime was to react disproportionately, out of fear, to a man’s violent attack on her and her friend.
After Stacey’s conviction, her family contacted Justice for Women, and a new legal team submitted Grounds of Appeal against her conviction.  The grounds include fresh evidence from an adolescent psychiatrist that she had ADHD at the time of her offence, in addition to other psychiatric diagnoses resulting from an extremely difficult childhood.  These conditions would have substantially impaired her responsibility for the offence. 
As a result of her ADHD she was extremely vulnerable to peer pressure, and it has also come to light that other prisoners manipulated her to give evidence during her trial in a way that made her come across unsympathetically to the jury. Had her condition been recognised, she would have had assistance from an intermediary at trial that could have prevented this.  Her legal team also argue that the judge failed to direct the jury adequately to take into account the provocation she was subjected to.
A single judge has refused Stacey permission to appeal her conviction, but her lawyers are renewing the application before the full court (a panel of three judges).  This is Stacey’s last chance to get the justice she deserves. If the appeal is successful, her murder conviction would be substituted with manslaughter and she should get a determinate sentence which we hope would allow her to be released, as she has already served nearly four years in prison.
If we fail at this stage, however, Stacey will have to serve the rest of her sentence for murder.  This would be disastrous for Stacey, as she is very vulnerable and is not coping well with prison.
This case is not just about Stacey.  The issues that have affected Stacey in her life are issues that affect many people today, especially young women, but the criminal justice system is failing to ensure that all are equal before the law.  Help us challenge Stacey’s conviction to make sure that the criminal justice system recognises the abuse that women and girls suffer, instead of punishing them for it. 

 What you can do to help free Stacey
If you want to learn more about the campaign, or find out more ways to support Stacey, please get in touch with us or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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