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Prosecutors broke own rules in assault case

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service breached its code and victims policy in withdrawing assault charges against two women, High Court judges have declared.

Poor communication with alleged target Bridgin Donnelly contributed to a failure to fully understand her views, they held.

Ms Donnelly issued judicial review proceedings after the pair she accused of attacking her were bound over to keep the peace. She alleged that the PPS withdrew the charges against her wishes, and that a prosecutor misled her into believing the two women had pleaded guilty and been sentenced.

She claimed the pair, referred to as L and A, attacked her in February 2013 in connection with a family dispute.

According to her account, the assault resulted in her sustaining cuts and bruises to her face and body, along with a broken nose diagnosed months later.

L and A were summonsed to appear at Lisburn Magistrates Court in May 2013 on charges of assault.

Following not guilty pleas the case was adjourned for a contested hearing.

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But after a prosecution eyewitness twice failed to attend the PPS withdrew the charges in December 2013.

L and A were instead bound over to keep the peace for 12 months in the sum of £400.

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