A 17-YEAR-OLD Coleford youth accused of attacking a young woman in Gloucester Park and trying to rape her is mentally fit to stand trial, a judge ruled today.
The youth’s defence team claimed he is not intellectually capable of entering pleas to the charges or of giving evidence.
Two psychiatrists gave evidence in support of the defence case at Gloucester Crown Court. One said he is not fit to plead or stand trial while the other said he is but would be ‘highly suggestible’ in court.
A third psychiatrist, called by the prosecution, argued that the boy – who is currently detained in a Northampton mental hospital – is fit for criminal trial.
Judge William Hart ruled the boy is capable of standing trial with the help of an intermediary to assist him.
“I am clearly of the view that he is fit both to plead and to be tried,” said the judge.
He described the charges against the boy as ‘extremely grave’.
“The case involves a short incident of extreme physical and sexual violence,” he said.
“It was on July 12 last year at about 10.45pm when the complainant, a 19-year-old woman, was walking home through Gloucester Park.
“The case against the defendant is that he attacked her by striking her over the head with what was almost certainly a bottle.”
The youth is then alleged to have manhandled her, attempted to rape her, seriously sexually assaulted her and held a pair of scissors against her throat.
“I am satisfied he does have sufficient intellect to instruct counsel, to plead to the indicment and to challenge jurors. He can give evidence and he can raise a defence,” the judge said.
The boy is charged with attempted rape, assault by penetration, assault with intent to commit a sexual offence and having an offensive weapon. The judge said when the boy was interviewed by police he told them: “I shouldn’t have done it. It was bad. She didn’t deserve it.”
Judge Hart added: “He was unable to give any explanation for his actions other than to say that a person he was playing football with in the park told him to attack the next person they saw.”
Dr Ajat Sanikop, a psychiatrist who spent two hours interviewing the body, told the court that he found him fit to plead and stand trial.
Dr Isabel Davey, who had the boy at her hospital unit from June to September last year, said she felt he is under such a mental disability that he is unfit.
And Dr Joanne Vernon, who is in charge of the boy’s case at the Northampton hospital where he is living, felt that although he could plead and stand trial he was ‘highly suggestible’.
The case was adjourned for arrangements to be made for the boy to enter pleas in the light of the judge’s ruling.