We have today issued proceedings for a judicial review against the Secretary of State for Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service of the decision to release a dangerous serial perpetrator of domestic abuse into an open prison which will likely allow him day release near the victim’s home. The victim in this case is Zoe Dronfield a well known campaigner and advocate for victims of domestic abuse and stalking. This was a terrifying case of domestic abuse where Zoe was lucky not to have lost her life in the attack. Zoe was woken by the perpetrator who carried out a prolonged attack where she sustained a fracture to her eye socket, bleeding on her brain, “savagely cut” according to the trial judge on her face and body from an attack with a meat cleaver, severed tendons, a broken arm requiring surgery and was unrecognisable with bruising and swelling. Zoe has been left with scars both physical and mental and not surprisingly suffers with PTSD from her ordeal. Smith was convicted in 2014 of causing Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent and sentenced to an extended sentence of 10 years in custody and 4 years on licence – he was also later convicted of harassment of another alleged victim and then of harassing Zoe from prison and sentenced to a further 6 months in custody.
There are over a dozen other women who claim to have been abused by Jason Smith including allegations of rape made by a serving police officer yet despite being categorised as a dangerous offender by the Judge the Ministry of Justice have deemed him safe to be transferred to an open prison after serving only 5 years of his sentence even though he has shown no remorse and notwithstanding the fact he has previously breached protective orders and continued to intimidate Zoe and her family from prison using, amongst other things, a mobile phone he illegally had in his possession. Smith still protests his innocence and claims to be the victim which many view as an additional risk factor
This decision shows a total disregard for the safety of victims – not just Zoe Dronfield but the other women who have previously been abused by Smith and also potentially any other woman he starts a relationship with
This is unfortunately a situation which has happened previously on many occasions particularly in cases of domestic abuse and stalking and this means that the vast majority of the victims being failed are once again women
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced that he wants to be tough on crime and if we are to believe him he needs to demonstrate this by ensuring that the MOJ reverse this decision and in future undertake a victim-focused risk assessment to ensure that victims of domestic abuse and stalking are not placed at risk when the perpetrator is allowed early release on their door step.
There is little point in announcing more prison places, better prison security and improvements for the CPS when the system is releasing dangerous perpetrators without sufficient regard for the safety of victims. Victims deserve better and our Judicial Review application seeks to ensure this for Zoe and all victims