Craig Kinsella – another failure in the drive to recognise disability hate crime
Craig Kinsella, son of former police chief Nick Kinsella previously boss of the Human Trafficking Centre, found himself kept captive as a slave. Craig’s case has become yet another of those deeply controversial case because of the failures by the UK’s justice services to recognise this case as a disability hate crime.
The Daily Mirror reported on 10 January 2014 that “Mr Kinsella was completely unaware Craig had fallen victim to the evil Rooke family, who hit him with pick-axes, shovel handles and a crowbar, and made him work for 12 hours a day.”
As the case unfolded it was clear the Rooke family had inflicted numerous beatings, even torture on Craig Kinsella at their home in Halifax Road, Parson Cross, Sheffield. It is quite clear that the Rookes took advantage of Kinsella’s disability, because they had exploited it. Kinsella said of his captors “I felt as if they controlled me,” clearly it was quite impossible to over power this.
Below are live tweets sent from the court on Jan 7th 2014 as the hearing proceeded:
I was alerted to the case via one tweeter, a Tom Sadler of Lewisham, and Sheffield born – he had been aware of the case and it caught my eye.
The first report on the Kinsella case was published in the pm of 7th Jan 2014. Nothing was said of disability hate crime, but the Sheffield Star’s opening paragraph cited:
“A Sheffield man with learning difficulties was held as a slave and brutally beaten by members of a family who were jailed today.”
The case WAS one of disability hate crime, it was patently obvious to those of us who had an interest in the case. It seems the judiciary had no acknowledgement of this, so I contacted the reporter, Polly Rippon, who attended the court:
By the evening of 7th Jan I had it confirmed that the case was not deemed a disability hate crime. This was a great disappointment for I sent several tweets expressing my concern at another judicial failure.
As the story has unfolded there have indeed been more shocks. First was the revelation that Craig was the son of a anti-slavery organisation’s supremo, which made the case even more ironic considering Craig was kept captive for many weeks in the rear grounds of the Rooke’s home. Secondly it became clear there was a chasm between the police and the CPS with regards to having made the case one of disability hate.
This latter story surfaced on 10th January. Here’s the exposure as related in the Disability News Service (DNS): “South Yorkshire police finally admitted today (Friday) that they had not treated the offences as disability hate crimes…. A police spokeswoman said: “Was this crime treated as a disability hate crime? No, it wasn’t.””
On 31st January 2013 the DNS reported thus: “South Yorkshire police has confirmed that it did not treat the offences against Kinsella as disability hate crime, and insisted “no evidence to suggest the victim had a learning disability.””
The DNS added: “a CPS spokesman said that one of its lawyers flagged the case as a disability hate crime after examining the file of evidence… CPS then instructed David Brooke, who prosecuted the case in court, to ask the judge for higher sentences… Brooke did not follow these instructions, and failed to request the sentence uplift… A CPS spokesman admitted that there were “lessons to be learned” from the case.
David Brooke, Barrister, KBW Chambers of Leeds
KBW’s website claims case was ‘successful’ – Brooke’s failure to uplift category of crime not mentioned.
The clash was revealed in detail on both BBC News and Sheffield Star. A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The medical background of the victim in this case was fully explored and considered by the prosecution during the investigation and there was no evidence to identify he suffered from any disability. All available evidence was put before the court which identified that the victim did not have a disability nor was he perceived by any persons involved in the investigation to have a disability.”
One of the issues behind this may be lack of available resources to deeper investigate the case and label it accordingly. On 5th Feb 2014 South Yorkshire Police claimed their force was very severely undermanned.
David Crompton, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, says his cash-strapped force was under huge pressure to mop up an ever-increasing workload because police are now “the service of last resort”. He claims sweeping budget cuts at other agencies have resulted in fewer people being available to help those in need – and, “when nobody knows who else to call, the police end up picking up the pieces.” (from Daily Express)
David Crompton, Chief Constable South Yorkshire Police (from BBC News)
Crompton claims cuts to services are leaving police to pick up the tab; “While we are spending time on these things we can’t spend as much time as we might want to on crime. Crime is the minority of our workload.”
This severely limited workload may explain why the case was treated as one of slavery. Easier to deal with – easier to procure justice.
How many times have we heard the UK’s legal services assert that it wont happen again, that these cases WILL be classified as hate crimes? That promise has been broken regularly, it seems there is somehow no urgency as the cases of Bijan Ebrahimi and many others that have passed before, standing as testimony to the UK’s many judicial failures.
It does seem the judiciary have no clue what they are trying to do. Neither does South Yorkshire police. How could anyone claim that Kinsella did not have a disability? South Yorkshire police claimed they did assessments, which revealed no disability – one wonders what sort of ‘assessments’ these were?
We are now at the point where just one possible recourse is left – elevate the sentencing – many deem Mrs Rooke received a too light sentence, whilst her husband, David Rooke, received a sentence that appears far too lenient when considering the very severity of the crime, including those awful beatings captured on CCTV.
It is too late to go back and classify it a disability hate crime. Disabled people have lost yet another opportunity to have their plight in these very difficult times brought to the fore and members of the public made aware the desire to impose cruel pleasures upon the disabled is just not on.