Judge's wrath over series of blunders in stabbing case of Richard Steinbeck in Canterbury
by Paul Hooper
A judge has criticised the police and prosecution lawyers
after a series of blunders in the case of a man stabbed in
Victim Richard Steinbeck was attacked by a gang of youths in
But the prosecution case against two men, who both denied being
involved, collapsed because of a mix-up over identification.
The only conviction – nearly two-and-a-half years after the
attack – was against an Ashford man who was charged with
Now Judge Heather Norton (pictured right) has torn a strip
off police and lawyers for what she described as "significant
failures" by the Crown Prosecution Service.
After giving Dillon James, 20, of Jemmett Road, a 12-month
community order for his part in the incident, she told the
prosecuting lawyer: "I would like it to be noted on the file that
there were, in the preparation of and conduct of this case,
significant failures by the prosecution."
She said the case against one defendant failed "principally
because of mistakes by the police to carry out correct
identification procedures in more than one way."
The judge added: "There was no identification parade, which
should have been held, because the prosecution sought to rely on
Facebook photographs which should not have happened.
"Mr Steinbeck, who in my view gave clear and frank evidence,
suffered quite appalling injuries. He was stabbed and he was
"And yet this case was charged as an assault occasioning actual
bodily harm. It should have been charged as a Section 18 wounding
with intent and to be frank could have been charged as more than
"I would like it to be noted on the file that there were, in the preparation of and conduct of this case, significant failures by the prosecution..." – Judge Heather Norton
"But why it was charged as an abh is utterly beyond me."
James was the instigator of the assault when he punched his
former lover Mr Steinbeck in the face, the court heard.
One of the witnesses said James "took a swing at Richard.
From that point another person took it upon himself to kick and
punch Mr Steinbeck taking him to the ground".
Mr Steinbeck said he had gone to the G Bar in King Street,
Canterbury, and was attacked as he left with five or six
He heard a glass smash near him and realised he was surrounded
by a group of men.
"One of the men stood in front of me and was quite aggressive. I
was then punched from the side which hit my head. I was then on the
floor and received a number of punches and kicks."
Judge Heather Norton
criticised the investigation at Canterbury Crown Court
As he was led away he heard racist remarks aimed at him and
later realised that had been stabbed.
James's lawyer Daniel Jerome told the court: "He has had this
hanging over him for an outrageous length of time for someone so
young. That's punishment in itself.
"There was some background between the victim and the defendant
and it was perhaps James's resentment at his treatment in that
relationship which led to the flashpoint on the night of this
"Feelings of resentment came to a head that night."
Judge Norton said the victim's injuries could have been
catastrophic and ordered James, who admitted the offence, to spend
the next month under partial house arrest – forbidden to leave his
home between 8 pm and 6 am.
He was also ordered to undergo treatment for his drugs
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