Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Courts to Hear Impact of Murder on Families; Stabbed Lawyer's Parents Invited to Tell of Trauma

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Courts to Hear Impact of Murder on Families; Stabbed Lawyer's Parents Invited to Tell of Trauma

Article excerpt

Byline: MARTIN BENTHAM

THE parents of murdered lawyer Tom ap Rhys Pryce will be able to testify in court to the devastating impact of their son's death.

Constitutional Affairs Secretary Lord Falconer made the pledge today as he announced that the Old Bailey is to become one of the first courts to allow new "victims' advocates" to speak on behalf of relatives during trials. He said the advocates, who could be relatives of a victim or experts chosen by them, would address courts before the judge passed sentence.

The aim was to ensure that the feelings of families were taken into account and the "historic" reform could result in stiffer sentences Lord Falconer told the Evening Standard: "This is the first time that victims will have a voice and a representative in a trial in this country.

"That's a very significant change and a big step forward. It is very important that the victims' family do not feel that they are the one group of people who have no voice.

If a trial ... doesn't hear from the family, then it has missed out hearing from the people most affected by the crime and that is wrong.

"A system that forgets the victim's family is one in which confidence will be low."

The advocates scheme will begin in manslaughter and murder trials at the Old Bailey, which dealt with 241 homicide cases last year, and crown courts in Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Winchester in April. …

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