A MOTHER is raising a complaint after a sheriff released her husband on bail and back to the family home despite allegedly assaulting her.

The case has raised concerns among victim support groups who are worried a court has created a situation where the accused in a domestic violence case and the alleged victim are expected to live under the same roof.

The alleged victim and support groups have said they wanted changes in how courts deal with domestic abuse cases in Scotland.

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The row erupted after Derek Allan, 52, of East Kilbride pleaded not guilty last week to charges of assault and breach of the peace. A trial is not expected until November.

Prosecutors had called for conditions to bail which included that he should not go to the home address or approach the accused.

Women’s rights campaigners say this would be normal in cases where the accused and the alleged victim live together.

The Herald:

But Sheriff Harry Small did not agree to add those conditions and granted standard bail with the residence to be the East Kilbride home where the accused and alleged victim live and where the alleged assault took place.

Experts say it created a “bizarre” situation where the court expects him to live at the address where the alleged victim resides, while a separate bail condition insists that he does not interfere with witnesses.

The domestic abuse prevention charity Scottish Women’s Aid which was concerned by the case said that it was “very unusual” to not have bail conditions imposed in domestic violence cases and then only when the alleged victim and accused are not living in the same house anyway.

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The alleged victim, who is to raise her concerns with the Sheriff Principal of Glasgow and Strathkelvin Craig Scott, has had to consider whether to leave the home to go to a woman’s refuge with her two children to avoid her estranged husband.

Domestic abuse support groups are alarmed at the decision which comes a year after the introduction of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 aimed at improving support for vulnerable people in court.

The alleged victim, who had a friend stay with her at the address on the first night, said: “My understanding of Scots law is that domestic violence was thought of in a dim light and you are supposed to be protecting [alleged] victims. I am not being protected. I am having to deal with the fall-out of what the sheriff has done.

“I am going to write a letter to the Sheriff Principal to say I have concerns that there should have been special bail conditions because victims of domestic violence are supposed to be protected.

“It’s not just for me it’s for everybody.

“I want an explanation as to why this is acceptable. I need some justification for this decision.”

Marsha Scott, the chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid said there needed to be better specialist domestic abuse training for sheriffs.

The Herald:

She said: “If two are living in the same house, it is absolutely insane, as far as I am concerned, that the bail conditions were refused, whether the accused had previous convictions or not. “

Ann Moulds, a prominent victims' rights campaigner said the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 should have entitled the alleged victim to extra protection.

The Herald:

"She should be entitled to whatever measures are available to help ensure her safety," she said.

"So here we have a criminal justice system that is calling on vulnerable people to stand as witnesses. But who is responsible for that victim at the end of the day.

"If it is domestic abuse case, why is the sheriff not protecting that [alleged] victim to the maximum degree?"

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: "In this case we did ask for special bail conditions and will always do so where appropriate."

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A spokeswoman for the Judicial Office for Scotland said they could not comment on individual cases and that judges never comment on a case.

But she added: “The Judicial Institute provides training to judges to raise awareness of the unique challenges presented to the court by the prosecutions of crimes of domestic abuse, including bail applications." 

According to Scots law standard bail conditions imposed insist the allege perpetrator "does not interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice whether in relation to himself or any other person".

The accused must appear at the appointed time for any hearing, must not commit an offence while on bail and make himself available for any inquiries or any report required over the offence he is charged with.