Friday, November 14, 2014


Last March I posted  "THE UNFORTUNATELY NOT SO STRANGE CASE OF STACEY HYDE."  You should probably check it out before, during, or after you read the piece below. 

 I am following up on that case with a bit of better news for Scission's Cops and Jails Friday.

As I wrote back in March:

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....

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.
At the time of the killing, Stacey was seventeen years old.  She had a history of mental health problems and abuse.  The man she killed, Vince Francis, was twice her age.  As Free Stacey Hyde writes:

Julia Hilliard of Justice for Women said “When you know about the circumstances of her case it is astonishing that Stacey was convicted of murder. She was a 17 year old girl with no previous history of violence – the man who died was a 34 year old man, with a long history of being violent towards women, and who was no doubt physically stronger than Stacey. She had injuries on her body, and there was also a recording of a 999 call made that showed that he was attacking her. It seems bizarre, when you hear these facts, that she was convicted of intending to kill.”

In the early hours of 4th September 2009, Stacey Hyde remembers waking up to hear her friend Holly screaming for help. In the events that followed, which Stacey does not clearly remember, Stacey stabbed and killed Holly’s partner Vince. 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”.

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 a forceful struggle with Vince.

Stacey said of her crime that “It was like I was trapped in my worst nightmare”.

Stacey was tried sentenced to life under an old law that does not allow for the loss of control caused by a fear of serious violence.  That law has since been changed.

Women and activists throughout the British Isles have been fighting for her ever since.  

Interestingly enough Karen Ingala Smith documents several cases of men treated much differently then Stacey for similar crimes.

In April this year, John Butler, 62, went to the flat of his former partner, Pauline Butler, 61, and stabbed her.  In his trial, Butler told the court that he couldn’t remember how the knife had ended up in his hand and that he had fallen after she had pushed him, causing him to accidentally injure her. The court heard that Pauline Butler had previously threatened him with a knife.  Of course, being dead, she wasn’t able to challenge his version of events.   Pauline had been found with a number of knife wounds to her neck, chest and back.  As judge, Mr Justice Edis pointed out, had Butler not wanted Pauline to die, he would have called an ambulance, rather than remove and wash the knife, take her dog to his home, drink a beer and smoke a cigar. Butler was found guilty of manslaughter, not murder, due to loss of control, and sentenced to jail for seven years in jail.

Sybil Sibthorpe was 80 years-old in May, 2012, when she was found in her garden with “significant” head injuries after being beaten by her former tenant Lee Grainger, 41.  Grainger pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was sentenced to 12 and-a-half years. According to the judge, Grainger was “a significant danger to the public”.

Adrian Muir, 51, killed Pamela Jackson, 55, by beating or kicking her head with such force that she suffered fractures to her skull and bleeding to her brain. He then drove over 120 miles before digging a grave in moorland and burying her with a bunch of flowers in a Tesco carrier bag. Muir initially denied murder and claimed he had been framed.  He posted fake entries from her Facebook page suggesting she was still alive. It took police more than two months before they found Pamela’s body in May 2013.  Muir’s fingerprint was found on the carrier bag inside her grave, and a CCTV camera caught him cleaning the back of his car in a supermarket car park.  He later claimed that she had attacked him, “like a bloody devil”.  Muir was jailed for 18 years, not for murder, but manslaughter.

Felipe Lopes, 26, had a six-year police history of violent assaults on women before being jailed for 12 weeks in 2012 after tracking down and assaulting an ex-girlfriend whom he had previously stabbed. Within two weeks of his release, in January 2013, he had beaten 23-year-old Anastasia Voykina to death with a hockey stick. Before he killed her, neighbours had called the police to her flat on two occasions, because, they said, his attacks on her were so severe, the building was vibrating. Judge Richard Marks said to Lopes: “There is no doubt in my mind you intended to kill her. You are and will remain for an indefinite time a significantly dangerous man, particularly to women.” Lopes pleaded guilty to manslaughter, not murder, on the grounds of diminished responsibility because of his mental health problems.  He was jailed for a minimum term of seven years and three months.

There is so much wrong demonstrated in the case of Stacey Hyde that even the stodgey old gomers with the wigs had to admit to it.

Yesterday, following full appeal hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, Stacey’s appeal has been granted, her murder conviction has been quashed, and a retrial has been ordered.

Free Stacey Hyde!

The first article below is from the Guardian.  The second is from the Telegraph.

Behind Stacey Hyde’s conviction for murder is a failed mental health system

Stacey Hyde is a convicted murderer. In 2009 she stabbed Vincent Francis to death with a kitchen knife. Stacey had woken up after a night out drinking with her friend Holly. The man Stacey killed was Holly’s partner. Stacey was 17 years old when she killed Francis and, during her short life, had suffered systematic physical and sexual abuse and severe neglect.
Francis had a history of domestic violence towards Holly, and also towards a previous girlfriend. During the trial, evidence was presented that he had attacked Holly 27 times. The night Francis died he had beaten Holly, and Stacey was scared.
This vulnerable young woman was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder after her conviction and psychiatrist reports suggest she was suffering from borderline personality disorder and depression at the time of the stabbing. Stacey regularly self-medicated with alcohol, had self-harmed, twice attempted suicide, and had been raped on several occasions while drunk. Stacey’s personality and judgment had been shaped by abuse and neglect, and this, in turn, affected her judgment. The jury had an option of convicting Stacey of the lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but convicted her of murder.
Stacey’s vulnerability and mental ill health would have massively affected her ability to take proper responsibility for what happened that night, but despite the evidence pointing to this, Stacey was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Justice for Women, a feminist campaign group I co-founded in 1990, is supporting Stacey’s appeal against her murder conviction, and is hopeful that the judges who hear her case on Thursday will consider how she was affected by the abuse and mental ill health that plagued her life.
Emma Humphreys is another example of how sexual abuse, physical violence and neglect destroys lives. Emma, who died in 1998, also killed a violent man when she was 17, and had, like Stacey, been ignored and let down by the agencies and individuals that should have treated and protected her.

This disorder is understood to be closely linked to experiences of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, all three of which Stacey experienced. Despite the fact that suicide is understood to affect more men than women, women are more likely to attempt suicide than men. Indeed, suicide is now the leading cause of death worldwide of girls aged 15 to 19.

Women and girls who have been abused in childhood frequently use self-harm as a coping mechanism for the feelings caused by the trauma. It is usually a sign of their resilience that they resort to something that seems so extreme in order to stay alive and to cope. Stacey, like many other young women who have experienced sexual abuse and violence, regularly self-harmed.
Supporting Stacey to overturn her murder conviction and be released from prison is not to ignore or diminish the terrible consequences of her actions. A man lost his life, and his family and friends lost someone they loved. But this tragedy could have been avoided.
There is a serious lack of support provision within the mental health system for young women like Stacey. Women’s psychiatric services are closing, and while10% of the total NHS budget is spent on mental health, only 0.7% is spent on children and young people’s mental health, according to the charity Young Minds. More than 850,000 children and young people in the UK have been diagnosed with a mental health condition.
Since her conviction, new evidence has emerged that at the time of the offence Stacey was suffering from a range of psychiatric diagnoses. Had Stacey received the help she so badly needed during her childhood, this tragedy could have been avoided. There are thousands of Stacey Hydes out there who end up in prison, incarcerated and punished by a system that so badly fails them.
 The Rape Crisis helpline in the UK is 0808 802 9999

Should we have jailed this teen girl for life for killing a violent man?


Stacey Hyde was just 17 years old when she found herself under arrest for murder.
The Somerset teenager had been out drinking with her friend Holly Banwell, 27, when the pair decided to return to Holly’s flat, which she shared with her boyfriend Vincent Francis, 34.
Stacey remembers falling asleep and hearing Holly screaming for help. She knew that Vincent was violent – there had been 27 separate incidents of domestic violence between him and Holly - and she rushed in to the room.
She can’t remember exactly what happened next, but in a 999 call, Holly is heard screaming: “My boyfriend is beating my friend. They are fighting.” The pair ended up in the foyer of the flats – where a neighbour saw Vincent pull Stacey by the hair – but she broke free and ran back into the flat.
Stacey grabbed a knife and stabbed Vincent. He suffered 17 wounds, and when the police arrived, they found Stacey curled in a corner, sobbing: “He tried to kill me… I had to help Holly… he was going to kill her… I thought he would kill me…”
Less than a year later, Stacey was found guilty of murdering Vincent. At the age of 18, she was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Now, four years later, Stacey is still in prison, aged 22. “It was like I was trapped in my worst nightmare,” she told campaign group Women For Justice, earlier this week. “When I dream of my future, I dream of a fairy tale, only the happy ending is a little simpler, just being reunited with my friends and family. It seems impossible most days.”
But Stacey’s dream could come sooner than she thinks. Today she is appealing her murder sentence. If she is successful, her crime could be reduced to manslaughter, and she could be released from prison.
Her lawyers are arguing that there is new evidence which will support a defence of diminished responsibility, relating to Stacey’s mental health. When the trial took place in 2010, Stacey was studied by adult psychiatrists did not conclude that she had any serious mental health issues.
But now, a number of issues in Stacey’s past have come up, including abuse. It’s now known that she used to self-harm, was bulimic, and previously tried to commit suicide. Child psychiatrists have looked into her behaviour and found she has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and a personality disorder – which could prove diminished responsibility, and also a lack of ‘specific intent’ to murder.
A recent photo of Stacey (far right) with friends visiting her in prison
Her aunt Julie Hyde, who has been campaigning to help Stacey for four years, tells me that they’ve been waiting for a manslaughter conviction ever since her niece was 18. “When we had the original trial, our worst nightmare was manslaughter. I never imagined the murder conviction. It was a huge, huge shock.
“She’s troubled but the only violence she would do was to herself. This was absolutely out of the blue. The sentence was wrong.”
She and the rest of Stacey’s family have been waiting for this chance to appeal for years, but now it’s here, they fear that Stacey will not be able to cope with a negative result.
“She’s not coping well in prison. If they uphold the murder conviction I'm not sure how she'll cope” says Julie. “There’ve been several very serious suicide attempts recently.”
Her mum Diane adds: "It would knock my daughter to the floor because I don’t think she could cope with another four years. It would be really unfair. This is her hope, she’s been hoping for this for so long so it would be very devastating news."
Stacey’s mental health issues mean that she is struggling more than the average inmate. “Mentally it’s really knocked her back because she can’t remember it happening and it must be very hard to be punished for something you can’t remember happening,” says her mum Diane.
For sisters Diane and Julie, the nightmare began back in September 2009. Diane knew that Stacey was out with Holly – who she felt was a bad influence on her teenage daughter – but expected her home so she could enrol for college the next day in a performing arts course.
Instead, Stacey stayed at Holly’s, and ended up under arrest for stabbing Vincent. “It was like a bereavement that weekend,” says Diane. “Even though I never lost someone, I felt like I did. She’s my daughter.
“I couldn’t believe she’d done something like that because she really isn’t a violent sort of person. I really thought at worst it would be manslaughter. I never ever thought they’d get her for murder. I didn’t believe it. It really knocked my faith in justice. I know what happened was wrong but there’s different circumstances. I really thought they could have taken into account how violent a man he was.”
Stacey’s cause, 'Free Stacey Hyde', has now been taken on by the aforementioned pressure group Justice for Women, who are fighting to help her. Julia Hilliard, a Justice for Women campaigner, says: “When you know about the circumstances of her case it is astonishing that Stacey was convicted of murder. She was a 17-year-old girl with no previous [convictions] – the man who died was a 34-year-old man, with a long history of being violent towards women, and who was no doubt physically stronger than Stacey.
“She had injuries on her body, and there was also a recording of a 999 call made that showed that he was attacking her. It seems bizarre, when you hear these facts, that she was convicted of intending to kill.”
She thinks that the jury’s ruling is part of a wider societal problem where women aren’t treated equally by the law: “She was treated really harshly. For us that’s a reflection of the continued institutional misogyny and sexism of the criminal justice system, that a young girl like Stacey would be treated so severely, when men in far less serious circumstances have mitigating circumstances.
“It was really clear in Stacey’s initial trial that her vulnerability and the trauma she experienced just weren’t recognised. We hope for a fair recognition of all the factors that led her into that situation.”
Stacey’s lawyer, Harriet Wistrich of Birnbeg Peirce & Partners, thinks that in Stacey’s original trial, the impact of her traumas "was not sufficiently understood, explored or accepted". In fact, certain traumas such as those relating to abuse could make someone respond differently to male violence.
“I think women and men are treated very differently in the justice system,” she says. “In my experience women who are violent, even on a one off occasion, are treated much more harshly then men by the criminal justice system. This is a reflection of the fact that women who do not behave in the way that women are expected to are judged much more harshly in society then men who behave badly."
Julie, who was very close to her niece, explains that Stacey’s vulnerability stems mainly from experiences that happened when she was just 14, and thought she had found out who her biological dad was. “She was really excited and he was pretty good about it all, but they did a DNA test and it turned out he wasn’t the father.
“She was devastated but she hid it. After that everything went downhill.”
From being a “bubbly, lively” girl with a love for drama and theatre, Stacey began drinking heavily, self-harming and she became bulimic.
“She was on anti-depressants,” says Julie. “There were a few suicide attempts. She was very troubled, there’s a lot of problems that still need to be assessed, but the man was attacking her.
“She feared for her life. She really thought he was going to kill her. She acted disproportionately as a result of that. It’s not like she went out that evening with the intention to murder anyone. The thought of her committing murder is abhorrent. I know her – there’s nothing violent about her at all.”
If you are affected by any of the issues described in this article, please contactSamaritans on 08457 90 90 90. If you have been affected by sexual violence please contact Rape Crisis on 0808 802 9999.

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