Justice for Jaslyn Smith - 'If you don't convict at first, trial, trial again'
I'm writing on behalf of my brother Jaslyn Ricardo Smith a Cat B prisoner who is currently serving a 2 Strike Automatic Life sentence at HMP Frankland. Though sentenced to a minimum term (the tariff) of 3 1/2 years he is now in his 13th year of the sentence and has always maintained his innocence. We the family also believe the conviction to be unsafe.
My brother was arrested on 8th May 1998 for the alleged rape of his then girlfriend, several hours after the police were called, his then girlfriend reported to them that she had been assaulted, she was then taken to hospital by the police for an examination. At the hospital her only complaint was of being beaten up no mention of rape, she was then examined by the hospital doctor for injuries, which may have been caused by the assault. She was then advised by the hospital to go home to rest and take headache tablets. Several hours later she was taken to the police station and examined by the police doctor for rape (why was she examined at the police station for rape and not at the hospital in the first instance). They examined her for any signs of rape; the evidence showed intercourse had taken place but no evidence of rape. My brother admitted having intercourse with the alleged victim but has always maintained that it was consensual (The police records showed no signs of rape so how could the jury find my brother guilty)
The first trial was in December 1998; the jury could not decide on/return any verdict on the rape charge so were discharged.
After a further 3 months on remand my brother was taken to a retrial on the charge of rape in front of a new jury and after 2 days deliberations still undecided the new jury were then given a judges direction by the judge after which he was found guilty. My brother was given an automatic life sentence, under section 2 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 having previously served a 30-month sentence in 1991 for a wounding offence. He has been in trouble for other petty offences plus burglary in November 1989 for which he had 12 months imprisonment. Throughout the trial my brother pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend causing her actual bodily harm and in possession of 3 bullets (so was charged with having ammunition without a certificate) but always maintained intercourse was consensual.
After getting over the shock of the conviction my brother thought to appeal but was out of time and so had to apply to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal out of time‚ this was refused. My brother then went to the CCRC (Criminal Cases Review Commission) and they claimed there were no grounds to refer the case back to the appeal court. It came to our attention and my brothers that neither his solicitor nor barrister at the time had viewed his transcripts of trial when they applied for leave to appeal out of time‚ and that the CCRC also had never viewed his transcripts of trial.
He thought to obtain all the court papers for himself and was told that after four to five years approximately the transcripts of trial are destroyed. He has been given a judges summing up to sentence. We the family have been trying to get hold of the transcript of trial, we contacted Cater Walsh Transcription Ltd who were the reporters on the day, and also Wolverhampton Crown Court where the trial took place. We were advised the scripts are only kept for 3 years then destroyed; we cannot believe that scripts for someone who was given a life sentence would be destroyed...
If my brother were to get a retrial, what evidence would be used?
Jaslyn is now stuck in the prison system and no sign that he will ever make it to the gate. At every parole hearing which he has attended he has been told he cannot be transferred out of closed prison because he has not proved he is no longer a risk to the public, and he has not engaged in any course work to prove this (yet a Automatic Life Sentence is not given for being a danger/risk to the public, so how can he reduce this risk to the public). We as a family feel they have unlawfully denied him access to courses within his tariff of 3 years.
Whilst at Full Sutton my brother was attacked by a Cat A prisoner in his cell, he got the blame for the attack and was sent to HMP Wakefield. Due to being discriminated against at HMP Wakefield my brother ended up in the segregation unit for 4 months, and then shipped out 2 weeks before his parole hearing to HMP Frankland where he remains today, still fighting against his conviction.
As a family we have written to a number of organisations such as The Home Office, Prison Service being a few of them, only to be told the same old line. Jaslyn has not done any courses to prove he is no longer a risk to the public, yet the alleged incident happened in his home. On one occasion I was told by The Prison Service they could not move my brother because he had a parole hearing coming up, yet they moved him to HMP Frankland 2 weeks before his parole hearing, how hypocritical is that?
He is 13 years older now and deeply regrets what he has done. He has missed out on his children growing up, he will do the courses available Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) and Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it (CALM) to prove he poses NO risk to the public, but needs to do them in a local prison closer to his family and friends as was instructed by the Lifer unit over 6 years ago but that instruction was never carried out.
My brother is not a risk to the public he has served his time for the offences he committed, he has turned his life around in prison, even though he has not had the support of the prison authorities. The public have given my brother/family support by signing a petition with over 100 signatures.
Inquiries/further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters of Support/Solidarity:
Jaslyn Ricardo Smith
HMP Full Sutton