Legal action issued against Crown Prosecution Service by family of 22-year-old Jourdain John-Baptiste in relation to 2015 balcony death
Family’s crowdfund campaign calls for public support
Jourdain John-Baptiste died following a fatal fall from her fourth-floor flat in London, Enfield. Her then boyfriend, who was present at the flat at the time of her death, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing the fall.
Now, Tracey John-Baptiste, Jourdain’s mother, has issued High Court proceedings against the Crown Prosecution Service for refusing to bring criminal charges against a suspect in connection with her daughter’s death in August 2015.
Tracey John-Baptiste said:“This was no attempted suicide, no accident. Jourdain would never take her life in such a dramatic way. We are asking the court to listen to our concerns. We want a jury to hear all the evidence.”
Almost three years following her death, the Crown Prosecution Service informed the family that it had made a final decision not to prosecute the suspect in connection with her death.
This decision was made despite the assessment of police who investigated the case and interviewed the suspect and despite evidence revealed at Jourdain’s inquest that witnesses heard screams suggesting she was in fear of her life in the moments leading up to her fall, and that she had cried out for somebody to help her. The family firmly believe that Jourdain’s boyfriend by his actions that night caused her to fall to her death.
However, in a letter received in March 2018, the Crown Prosecution Service stated that it had been unable to establish that an initial decision taken in August 2016 not to charge the suspect had been wrong. The letter stated that despite a reviewing CPS lawyer and experienced Queen’s Counsel concluding that there was sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges, a final decision by the area manager confirmed that the original decision that the case did not meet its evidential standard for prosecution was not wrong.
Ms John-Baptiste’s family believe that there were serious flaws in the initial decision taken by the Crown Prosecution Service not to charge the suspect, which have never been addressed. If granted permission by the court, they will seek to argue that a jury should be allowed to decide whether her daughter’s boyfriend was criminally responsible for her premature death.
In a letter before claim sent to the Crown Prosecution Service in May 2018, Ms John-Baptiste’s solicitors at the Centre for Women’s Justice argued that the CPS decision was “irrational”, in light of evidence available about the circumstances of Ms John-Baptiste’s death. In its reply the CPS declined to respond to comments made about the weight of evidence against the suspect but upheld its March decision.
“After the devastating death of our daughter Jourdain we have fought tirelessly for justice. We have been shocked at the way the CPS have dealt with us as a family, we are shocked at the time each decision has taken and completely disagree with their assessment of the evidence. We went through the Victim Right of Review process believing this had some meaning, only to have a decision to prosecute overturned. It makes a mockery of the whole process. We will not give up. We are not looking for blame. We just want the justice Jourdain deserves.” Tracey John Baptiste
Kate Ellis, solicitor at Centre for Women’s Justice said, “When we considered all the admissible evidence available relating to Ms John-Baptiste’s death, and the views of police officers investigating the case, we could not understand why the Crown Prosecution Service had refused to bring criminal charges. This is, quintessentially, the kind of case that should be put before a jury.”
Harriet Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women’s Justice, stated of this first case launched by the Centre, “This case should be seen in the context of state failings in tackling the prevalence of domestic abuse. With recorded figures demonstrating that more than two women a week are killed by violent partners, we are very concerned that the CPS has denied this family an opportunity for justice.”
A crowdfund launched by the family to support their legal claim is currently live on CrowdJustice, a crowdfunding platform dedicated to raising funds and awareness for legal cases: support it here Justice for Jourdain