The Prosecutors: The Trial
Real Crime & Punishment
In this final episode of the series, prosecutors in the Complex Casework units of CPS Mersey-Cheshire and CPS South-East are preparing for trials in separate historic cases.
In 1993, a few days after her 16th birthday, Claire Tiltman was murdered in an alleyway. Since Colin Ash-Smith admitted to other knife attacks in the same area, he has been the main suspect for the crime. In 1996 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for those offences. But without direct evidence, he was not charged with the murder of Claire Tiltman.
Claire’s parents died before seeing her killer brought to justice and a group of her school friends took up the campaign to keep the case in the public eye. Now using a change in the law, which might allow the jury to know about Ash-Smith’s other attacks, and the similarities between them, prosecutor Nigel Pilkington is trying to build a circumstantial case against Colin Ash-Smith.
In Mersey Cheshire a non-recent sex abuse case is being prepared for trial. Keith Cavendish Coulson is facing 42 counts of indecent assault on boys in the 1970s and 80s. He says they’re lying and it never happened. The CPS’ handling of non-recent sex abuse cases is often highly controversial and Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, is involved in overseeing the case.
Cases committed a long time ago are charged and sentenced according to the law at the time. As Cavendish Coulson’s offences were in the 1970s and 80s, they can only charge him under the old law of 1956. Historic cases also present challenges, as the memories of witnesses might have faded and evidence might no longer be available. But moving testimony from Cavendish Coulson’s accusers suggests they have far from forgotten these offences.