*iStock photo
*iStock photo

A mother has urged prosecutors to do more to protect children involved in criminal proceedings.

The burglary victim told the Sun she was devastated that some media outlets had chosen to name her — and by doing so, indirectly identify her nine-year-old daughter — whose home was targeted by a drug addict.

The media were acting within the law, but the woman says something should be done to prevent what she sees as the re-victimization of innocent victims of crime.  

Her calls were backed up by The Women’s Resource Centre and also by Sheelagh Cooper, founder of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, who told us: “In any case where a child is involved, the victim or the victims parents ought to be consulted by the media coverage.”

The woman’s daughter was in the dining room of their Devonshire home on September 13 when a man walked into the house. She shouted for him to leave.

The woman came into the room and the man —Andre Tucker grabbed her purse — it contained $1,000 in cash leftover from a recent vacation — and ran out of the home.

On Wednesday, he was jailed for three years.

Speaking on how this affected her daughter, the woman said: “She is not doing well. Whenever we come home, she really clings to my body, holding my hand.

“She wanted to move away to [the European country of my descent]. I explained to her that these crimes happen all over the world.

‘She cries a lot’

“She has been sleeping at her grandparents a lot. She doesn’t like being in the house.

“I’m going to put in security and everything because I need to make sure she feels comfortable. She cries a lot.”

The woman continued: “It’s not fair that I was in the news.

“My daughter is going through enough and now everyone is going to approach her about it because she’s the victim in this. It just doesn’t feel nice. I wasn’t asked and I wouldn’t have allowed my name to here used for all to see.”

“Victims shouldn’t be identified by name. Why? Because everyone is approaching me and wanting to hear the story and you don’t want to talk about it. You want to try to move on. That’s just how I feel.”

In the UK, a judge can impose specific restrictions on a court case involving an individual under the age of age of 18, preventing the names of minors from being published. 

And often these Section 39 restrictions are imposed at Magistrates’ Court at the first hearing of a case.

However in Bermuda, there appears to be a void in the law in this area as Section 39 orders don’t exist.

It also seems that a Magistrate cannot order a reporting restriction in these cases.

Rory Field, the Director of Public Prosecution did not reply to questions we put to him about this issue by press time.

The burglary victim added: “Now I can be identified even by address and what does that do for my security and my daughter’s security?

“My child is the victim and there’s only so many people with my last name on this island so she can easily be identified.”

The woman said she planned to contact the media outlets who named her in their stories.

The media outlets were not wrong in naming her, as there were no restrictions imposed.

“I don’t find it alright,” the burglary victim told us. “I couldn’t even get into work today without people asking me questions.”

‘A right to be protected’

Patrice Frith Hayward, executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre, told us last night it “supports the concerns of the victims who have a right to be protected from further re-victimization by having had their names publicized in this case.

“ The trauma experienced by the victims encompasses physical, emotional and psychological residual effects. It may dramatically alter the victim’s lifestyle and her recovery depends not only on the ability to recover, but on the availability of services to assist, such as counselling, family and community support. 

“This is especially difficult in a small community and when children are involved, there is a sense of vulnerability that cannot be imagined or understood unless we have experienced it ourselves.”

On a positive note, the burglary victim is grateful for the way in which her case was handled by police, describing it as “outstanding… They stayed with us for awhile. PC Jerome Overby was very tactful dealing with my daughter and told her she should chose a career in law enforcement as she had written down a clear description of Mr Tucker immediately after the incident happened.”

She also thanked Detective Constable Carl Neblett, Detective Constable David Abraham and Detective Constable Jason Trott.

“This detective team is very humble and professional and they had so much compassion for my daughter. 

“I am well aware that this is a very minor case for this highly qualified team, but they treated it with the same importance as if it was a big case.” 

What do you think? Should innocent victims of crime be afforded anonymity in court? Email feedback to reporter Mikaela Ian Pearman: mpearman@bermudasun.bm