VIC Mother Assaulted by Uncle but Police Won't Press Charges?

Discussion in 'Criminal Law Forum' started by RBB, 9 August 2018.

  1. RBB

    RBB Member

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    Hi all,

    I've signed up to this forum because I've just found out some heartbreaking and frustrating news, and would like to know what options there still may be.

    Around 6 weeks ago, my mother was assaulted quite badly by my uncle (her brother). He has threatened me with physical violence twice in the past, and I believe made threats to her as well, but this is the first time they materialised. It occurred at my grandmother's house, after a disagreement related to her care (she was diagnosed by a Professor of Geriatrics with senile dementia about a year and a half ago).

    During the assault, my mother was:

    - Grabbed by her wrists and dragged along the ground, with bruising to her wrists and elsewhere

    - Kicked in the leg and suffered severe bruising.

    - Huge chunks of her hair pulled out from her head and suffered whiplash from being pulled by her head

    - Other incidental injuries related to this...

    It happened on a Friday, and when I spoke with my mother two days later Sunday, I could tell she sounded "off". When I asked her what was wrong, she said "nothing" but I know her pretty well and knew something was up. I rang my sister and she told me what had happened. They had kept it from me for a day and a half because they were worried about how I would take it.

    I went over to her house immediately and realised she had been in shock and crying. I asked her why she hadn't gone to the police, and she said that my Uncle had yelled at her and said it was her word against his, and that their mother would never testify against him and she thought it was no use. I convinced her to go to the police nonetheless, which we did immediately.

    We went to her local station, and what happened next was really weird - my mum explained in detail what had happened and was extremely emotional in doing so. The officer took his notes "over the counter" but didn't offer her the opportunity to make a formal statement. Another officer then came and took photos of her injuries, which were still very visible. They then said they'd "be in touch", and we left.

    My mum was in so much pain from her injuries that the following day (Monday) she visited her regular doctor who, on checking her out, recorded two pages worth of the injuries as I noted above and - for the first time in many, many years of being my Mum's doctor - referred her to see a psychologist, which she has begun to do.

    We subsequently learned that on the same Monday, the police officer went to my grandmother's house where my Uncle spends a lot of his time (though he does not live there) and "asked him some questions". His line was that he simply "restrained" my mother - which is completely out of sync with the injuries she received from him. When he chooses to, he presents very well and is extremely manipulative.

    They also asked questions of my grandmother (despite my mother explaining at the station that she has dementia and an almost nonexistent short term memory). Although my grandmother is perfectly fluent in English, my Uncle insisted that someone be present to "translate" for her (she is a native Russian speaker).

    My cousin (Uncle's son) happened to be there, and so the officer asked my Uncle to leave the room and questioned my grandmother with my cousin present to "translate". Which ultimately means he was able to tell the officer whatever he wanted, to support my Uncles story.

    From there, my Uncle - obviously shaken that Police were involved - went to a lawyer and was advised to apply for an injunction order which he did some 9 days after the assault. My mother also has applied for an injunction order and both are being heard in the Magistrate's court later this month.

    In the several weeks that followed, my mother contacted the station on numerous occasions asking what the status was, and the officer and all others at the station became evasive. Not taking the phone. Not returning calls.

    The officer had actually gone on leave for 10 days immediately after the report and nothing progressed during that time, of course. Eventually my mother did speak with the officer, and he told her nothing could be done because she "hadn't made a formal statement". She told him she wasn't aware she had to do that, didn't know the difference and hadn't been given the option initially, but wanted to do so now. He scheduled a meeting (one week later) where she gave a formal statement.

    By this point she was so disillusioned at how it had been handled, that she engaged a lawyer to come with her and he was present as the statement was made. The lawyer (who by the way is top notch... my mother does have the resources to engage good legal support) said there was more than enough to charge my Uncle and he would be shocked if that didn't happen.

    Well, last night my mother was informed by the (female) Sergeant that she decided not to lay charges because it was "my mum's word against my Uncles" and that "they didn't want to put my Grandmother through it" (not that she can be a witness anyway, because as I said, she has severe dementia). I'll say again, Police have just *decided* not to press charges with a few very lame reasons.

    I should note that my Uncle is as dirty as they come. Tax evasion, centrelink fraud, blackmail, you name it. On numerous occasions he has threatened me with violence (I'll split your head in two, I'll break your legs... etc.). He's sent abusive texts to my mother prior to the incident. He even threatened a doctor very recently when that doctor refused to write a letter saying that my Grandmother does not suffer dementia (he needed a letter to that effect to support his tax evasion case, which is ongoing).

    I would appreciate any advice on where to go from here. My Uncle must be brought to justice. This has had a massive impact on my Mother obviously, but also myself and my siblings and my step father, while my Uncle thinks he's gotten away with it. I want to see him brought to justice for assaulting my Mother. I'm disheartened in the process and have lost faith in the system. I view this not as a customer service complaint, but as a duty failure plan and simple.

    I've read through a recommendations paper provided to Victorian Parliament via the Police Accountability Project and I'm afraid that the Vic Police internal PSU (Professional Standards Command) is useless and finds in favour of its own personnel 99.9% of the time, and that the IBAC (Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission) usually just defers to them on cases like this anyway.

    I would have thought that with violence against women firmly (and rightly!) on the public agenda at the moment, this just shouldn't happen. But it has.

    So what do I do next?
     
  2. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Look if the cops don't want to pursue it I would think it is because they don't see there being much chance of success... Let's look at it from the cops perspective... No witnesses. The victim has dementia... Short version, not much chance of a conviction.

    What to do? nothing on that front. But it is on file, so if anything else happens get onto it asap.

    So mum has some $$$ go see a solicitor about getting a letter to your uncle explaining that he is not welcome at her house. That way if he does come near her she would have good grounds for an avo...

    But getting a conviction for the assault - I think you're just gonna have to accept that the cops are not interested for a reason... IT might just be lazy police, or it could be that they don't see there being a good chance of getting a conviction. Even if it's laziness, lodging a complaint is likely to be just as problematic.
     
  3. RBB

    RBB Member

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    So you're telling me that someone can assault another in private and never be charged, because "no witnesses"?

    I don't buy that.

    Surely the evidence speaks for itself. My Uncle admitted there was a physical altercation, and yet unsurprisingly he has not a scratch while my mum had numerous injuries. It's not just her word against his. It's her injuries. It's numerous threats to us previously. It's even threats to doctors who refused to give him unsubstantiated assessments so he could use my Grandmother as a witness. There is a pattern of behaviour here.... people seem to have been convicted for far less.
     
  4. Rob Legat - SBPL

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    Just because a crime has been committed doesn't mean that action will be taken. I've served up multiple instances to the police in neat packages to be simply met with indifference. It's not just whether a crime has been committed - it's whether it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and the 'cost' of the exercise overall (although

    I would say this would largely not be admitted to). I would guess the lack of corroboration of your mother's recounting of the events is the tipping point for them, along with the apparently minor nature of the injuries (no broken bones, no deep lacerations to leave scarring, etc.). Although not mentioned, if this is the first formal complaint against your uncle, that may factor as well.
     
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  5. Cobra1972

    Cobra1972 Well-Known Member

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    Is there an active IVO in place?

    Is it a full order, excluding your uncle from the home?

    Do you have copies of the threatening texts you speak of and have these been provided to Police?

    Have you made a statement regarding the Threats aimed at you? As this is an offence, in itself...
     
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  6. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray Well-Known Member

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    Your uncles history is irrelevant.

    The perspective of a cop - without something other than he said, she said, I would be quite hesitant to commence action. In fact I wouldn't unless the injuries to one party were so substantial that a self defence argument would fail just based on the severity of the injuries. Note here that what you, or your mother considers to be severe is likely going to be different than what I consider severe.

    I personally don't care about the cost to QPS but I do care about the cost to me. In DV, Drugs and Traffic matters we can not have costs awarded against us. In everything else we can. Those costs get awarded against us personally (against me, not QPS). QPS will usually cover the costs however not always. It's very easy for us to commence proceedings, or not to. It's extremely difficult for us to get approval to withdraw a charge once we start the process. Sometimes we know the case will be futile and has no reasonable chance of succeeding but we are forced to proceed because no one will approve the withdrawal. If we do something like refuse to tender any evidence then costs will almost certainly be awarded against us and QPS will not cover it.
     
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