Mother of drowned boy waits for ruling after challenging prosecution decision

·2-min read

The mother of a 13-year-old boy who died after allegedly being pushed into a river is waiting for a ruling on the merits of a decision not to prosecute a teenager accused of being responsible.

Christopher Kapessa was allegedly pushed into the River Cynon near Fernhill, Rhondda Cynon Taff, by a 14-year-old boy in July 2019, a High Court hearing has been told.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided that a prosecution was not in the public interest.

Christopher’s mother, Alina Joseph, who is from the Cynon Valley, has taken High Court action against the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill, who heads the CPS.

Two judges are due to deliver a ruling on Monday.

Lord Justice Popplewell and Mr Justice Dove considered argument at a hearing in London earlier this month.

Lawyers representing the CPS told judges that the decision being challenged had been made by a specialist prosecutor after a review.

They argued that Ms Joseph’s challenge should be dismissed.

Barrister Michael Mansfield QC, who led Ms Joseph’s legal team, argued that the decision not to prosecute the “suspect”, who is now 17, was “unreasonable or irrational”.

Mr Mansfield said the decision was “unlawful” and “ought to be quashed”.

He said Ms Joseph wanted to “understand fully what had happened to her son” and to “see justice done according to that truth”.

Mr Mansfield said the CPS failed to “properly value human life”.

He said evidence existed to provide a “realistic prospect” of conviction for manslaughter.

Judges heard that a number of youngsters were at the scene.

Mr Mansfield said there were 16 video interview statements from witnesses.

Christopher had expressed concern about his lack of swimming ability and had been “unwilling to enter the water freely”, he said.

He said the “suspect” had “pushed” Christopher “deliberately” into the water, and Christopher had drowned and been killed as a result.

Mr Mansfield said Christopher and his family had been “relatively new” to the area and were a black family living in a predominantly white community.

Duncan Penny QC, who led the CPS legal team, told judges that the decision at the centre of the case had been taken by Moira MacDaid, a specialist prosecutor.

Ms MacDaid had concluded, after a review,  that the original decision not to charge the suspect with manslaughter was correct, he said.

Mr Penny said Ms MacDaid had considered all relevant evidence with “scrupulous fairness”.

He said her decision that a public interest test “was not met” was neither irrational nor “undermined by any error of law”.

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