For the attention of Editors and Forward planning
Press Release: Justice for Christopher Kapessa
Subject: Christopher Kapessa - Family response to Coroner's Conclusion
Alina will say:
Today I remember my Christopher. I cherish the memories of my son, who was an incredible young boy; brother to his siblings and a beloved member of my family.
Christopher will always be remembered for bringing immense joy and happiness to me and to everyone he met.
Despite his age, Christopher was always thoughtful and sensitive, full of hope, and undeterred by any obstacles placed in front of him.
We deeply miss him. As a family there’s nothing that we wouldn’t give to have just one more day with Christopher. We only wish he was here now for us to be able to tell him how much we all love him. There has not been a day since when he hasn’t been on our minds.
Christopher would have celebrated his 18th birthday in January this year. I wonder every day what he would have looked like now and what he would be doing.
I know he would be fulfilling his dreams and aspirations. He would still be cheeky and making us all laugh.
Four and a half years later, as I revisit the painful moment when my son was taken from us, I am also haunted by the injustice our family endured throughout the police investigation into Christopher's death. From the outset, they had already made decisions about what happened to Christopher. They had a bias view of me as a black, single mother, living in the valleys. For example rather than looking for Christopher they closed the investigation within 24 hours. The police did not investigate the pattern of racism suffered by Christopher and the family. It was only after I raised concerns that they began to investigate. I was a victim of the institutionally racist practices of the police. I deserved better. Christopher was only a child and he deserved better. I am afraid that because of the way they treated our family, I do not trust them.
I have not been able to grieve for Christopher or mourn his passing. The decision not to prosecute, despite sufficient evidence, is something I wouldn't wish upon any mother or family. As long as cps and police continue to deny justice, I don’t know when I will be able to grieve.
The coroner's conclusion has confirmed what I have always suspected and I now know was actually clear right from the beginning: that my son was pushed to his death without any warning. That Christopher was unlawfully killed and he should be with us today. "
Alina Joseph, Christopher Kapessa's mother (19Jan24)
Daniel Cooper will say:
"Christopher's death has caused unimaginable trauma for his family, distress and anxiety for the community in and around Wales and has raised issues of significant public interest.
The coroner’s findings were clear and unambiguous: Christopher was deliberately and intentionally pushed in the back from behind
The push was capable of being an intentional, unlawful act that caused Christopher’s death.
That the evidence of the suspect about what happened was rejected and what he told the police at first was clearly untrue.
This judgement is a vindication of the family's campaign for justice that began four and half years ago. It has been a long four years for Christopher’s voice to be heard, about what really happened on the 1st July 2019.
Over the intervening years, there have been various investigations that have given rise to a large body of evidence - two police investigations, the CPS’ investigation, a Judicial Review, an IOPC investigation and this Inquest - that have always suggested that Christopher was deliberately pushed into the river. The Crown Prosecution Service concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support a prosecution for manslaughter but refrained from doing so on public interest grounds.
Although the Coroner's conclusion is of course not binding on the CPS, we believe they now have an obligation to review their decision. In our view the reasons for prosecuting have become more compelling. They include the manner in which evidence was given by child witnesses. Their answers were factual and confident and without fear. Moreover the suspect is now an adult - as are many of the children - so any adverse impact of giving factual evidence in criminal proceedings has vastly diminished.
The suspect, on the other hand, continues to be dishonest and misleading about what happened. His first account alleged that Christopher simply slipped into the river and that is the information he provided to his mother on the day of the incident. That is what Ms Joseph was first told. Very painfully for Ms Joseph, when questioned in the Inquest he failed to tell the truth or accept the evidence of other witnesses to the event. His account in the Inquest involved one movement that contains a partial run, slipping, stumbling and falling over a very short distance leading to him colliding with Christopher who then fell into the river. This account does not make sense and has never made sense. It is significant to note that not a single witness supported this fictitious account.
The hard and tragic truth, as determined by the Coroner, is of a young man, at the start of his life, who was forced into the water, against his will.
Based on this outcome and the evidence compiled, we invite the CPS to reconsider their decision to prosecute.
Daniel Cooper, Solicitor for Alina Joseph, Imran Khan & Partners
The family is represented by Daniel Lemberger Cooper of Imran Khan and Partners, and Michael Mansfield KC (Nexus Chambers) and Serena Sekhon (No 5 Chambers)
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