Christopher Kapessa’s Judicial Review Hearing Due Today

The mother of a 13-year-old boy who died after he was allegedly pushed into a river is awaiting a ruling on the merits of a decision not to prosecute a teenager accused of being responsible.

Christopher Kapessa was allegedly pushed into the River Cynon near Fernhill, Rhondda Cynon Taff, by a 14-year-old boy in July 2019, a High Court hearing heard.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided that a prosecution was not in the public interest.

Christopher’s mother, Alina Joseph, who is from the Cynon Valley, brought an action in the High Court against Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill, who heads the CPS.

Two judges must render a decision today.

Lord Justice Popplewell and Mr Justice Dove considered the arguments at a hearing in London earlier this month.

Lawyers representing the CPS told the judges that the contested decision was made by a specialist prosecutor after review.

They argued that Ms. Joseph’s challenge should be dismissed.

Barrister Michael Mansfield QC, who led Ms Joseph’s legal team, argued the decision not to prosecute the ‘suspect’, who is now 17, was ‘unreasonable or irrational’.

Mr Mansfield said the decision was ‘unlawful’ and ‘should be overturned’.

He said Mrs Joseph wanted to ‘fully understand what had happened to her son’ and ‘see justice done according to this truth’.

Mr Mansfield said the CPS had failed to ‘value human life properly’.

READ MORE: The family has obtained a judicial review for the death of River Cynon

He said evidence existed to provide a “realistic prospect” of a manslaughter conviction.

The judges learned that a number of young people were at the scene.

Mr Mansfield said there were 16 witness video interview statements.

Christopher had been concerned about his lack of ability to swim and had “refused to enter the water freely”, he said.

He said the “suspect” “pushed” Christopher “deliberately” into the water, and Christopher drowned and was killed as a result.

Mr Mansfield said Christopher and his family were “relatively new” to the area and were a black family living in a predominantly white community.

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Duncan Penny QC, who led the CPS legal team, told the judges the decision at the center of the case had been made by Moira MacDaid, a specialist prosecutor.

Ms MacDaid had concluded, after review, that the initial decision not to charge the suspect with manslaughter was correct, he said.

Mr Penny said Ms MacDaid had considered all relevant evidence with “scrupulous fairness”.

He said his decision that a public interest test “was not met” was neither irrational nor “undermined by an error of law”.

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