The lawyer in charge of prosecuting Caroline Flack for assault has claimed it was “right” to pursue the trial.
Ed Beltrami, who was then head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in north London, said the case could not be dropped just because the alleged victim – Flack’s boyfriend Lewis Burton – did not support it.
“You’ve got to come to a decision as a prosecutor, you’ve got to do what you think is right,” he told the Wales on Sunday newspaper. “You cannot do what you think is popular.”
When Flack took her own life in February, two weeks before the trial was due to start, her management team criticised the CPS for conducting a “show trial”.
However Mr Beltrami, who is now Wales’ chief crown prosecutor, said “you can’t possibly anticipate that sort of thing” when making a decision.
He said he had never heard of the former Love Island presenter before he took over the case following the decision by CPS Direct to charge her with assault.
“It had come into the area and it had blown up in the press which is why it was referred to me,” he said.
By that time Mr Burton had already dropped his complaint, but Mr Beltrami said that “you don’t just fold at the first sign of trouble.”
“The facts of this case were the guy had made his complaint, he had phoned the police, he was terrified he was going to be killed, he’s been hit over the head with a weapon, namely a lamp, he’s got a cut to his head, and she’s made an admission to the police at the scene,” he added.
“So in the general principles of domestic abuse you say: ‘Well I’m going to proceed without the victim because I’ve got the admission, I’ve got the complaint from the victim which I’ll try to get in, I’ve got the physical evidence of the cut to the head and the mess in the flat which has been filmed by the police’.”
Mr Beltrami suggested there was a risk of “repetition” if they had dropped the case. He asked: “Supposing we had made a decision not to proceed, which we could have done, and she goes back to live with the boyfriend and she loses her temper again on another occasion, hits him a bit harder with a lamp or with something else, and he dies. How would that look then?”
The CPS is conducting a review into Flack’s death.
Additional reporting by agencies