Thursday 27 July 2017

Alleged domestic violence victim jailed after she refuses to testify against husband

Domestic violence victim (Photo posed)
Domestic violence victim (Photo posed)

Caroline Mortimer

An alleged domestic violence victim has been jailed for two weeks after refusing to testify against her husband.

Donna Kiddie was found to be in contempt of court and sentenced to 14 days in prison after she said she couldn’t swear that her husband had hit her.

Ms Kiddie spent four nights in prison before her solicitor successfully lodged an appeal against the conviction at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Elizabeth McFarlane’s decision has been condemned by women’s rights group and domestic violence campaigners who say it could deter future victims from coming forward. 

Scottish Women’s Aid chief executive Marsha Scott told the Scottish Daily Record: “This is increasingly unusual as our system improves but it’s not unheard of in the past that a victim would be cited for contempt when she felt unable to testify. I have to say we abhorred that as an outcome.

“In general, the practice of trying to improve evidence in a case by coercing a witness re-victimises victims and breaches their human rights.”

Ms Kiddie’s husband Jonathan was found not guilty of assaulting his wife at their home in Dalry, Ayrshire, on 7 May after she refused to testify.

Mr Kiddie, who is the principal solicitor at Renfrewshire Law Centre in Paisley, allegedly struck her on the head - causing her to fall and suffer an injury. 

Ms Kiddie initially gave a statement to police about the incident but later sent several emails to the procurator fiscal - or public prosecutor - to have the charges dropped.

She claimed it had been a “collision” and said it was the first time he had ever assaulted her and it was “completely out of character for him”.

On the witness stand she remained vague and said they had both been drinking so she did not remember what happened.

Sheriff McFarlane warned her about prevaricating and remanded her in custody after she refused to say he struck her. 

When sentencing Ms Kiddie, she said the 40-year-old teacher had "skirted around  it" and she said she had been "trying to be clever".

She said she found Ms Kiddie’s evidence “astonishing”, adding: “There was no mention of a collision or even drinking. I take a very dim view of what you did yesterday and today.

“The prosecution failed because you failed to answer questions asked by the prosecution. You’re going to prison.”

Ms Kiddie wept in the stand and pleaded for leniency as she had “babies”.

Her husband said he was “extremely concerned” for her wellbeing after she was jailed.

(© Independent News Service)

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