Friday September 12th was day that vulnerable victim and Beechwood Children’s Home whistleblower, Melanie Shaw, had been preparing for all week; the day she would stand up in Nottingham Crown Court and declare proof of her innocence against charges of arson in a composed and professional manner in front of the Judge.
Melanie, a 43 year-old mother of two and survivor of childhood sexual abuse, has spent the last two months on remand in HMP Peterborough, enduring exceptionally harsh treatment, including bullying, solitary confinement and food deprivation for twenty-four hours, without evidence of her involvement in the offence being presented.
Unhappy with her defence team, she decided to represent herself in court. But strangely, there was no sign of Melanie at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday morning, and disappointed friends and supporters – some of whom had travelled from as far away as Plymouth, learned that the Judge was on holiday.
The news prompted speculation of a secret court hearing or a contrived attempt to confuse and demoralise Melanie, who claims to have powerful evidence of a paedophile ring operating at Beechwood.
“She wasn’t there. The whole thing stinks!” said Mickey Summers, himself a survivor of horrific physical and sexual abuse at the former Nottingham children’s home.
Yesterday, Melanie revealed that the clerk dealing with her case had arrived at the prison the day before the scheduled hearing to announce it had been cancelled for over a week. Then, the following day, Melanie was informed she would appear in court by video link. Nothing happened.
“I’ve sacked them. I’ve had no paperwork in eight months,” said Melanie, close to tears. “There are people controlling the show. I’m at the mercy of others. I forgive people. I have no hatred in my body. I love everybody, especially people who’ve had a hard life because I’ve got empathy. All I know is I trust God, and I trust myself. I shouldn’t be in prison.”
Mickey Summers outside Nottinghamshire Crown Court
Public support keeps her going:
Letters from the public have been pouring in from all over the world, and this is what keeps her going, she says. She’s received over 1000 and now has repetitive strain injury from writing replies to them all.
“I still manage to reply to 99% of people who write,” she says, “even if it’s just an acknowledgement.” It’s strange how she’s received letters from all over the country, including one from UKIP, but none from Nottingham.
“Prison is an alien environment,” she adds. “It’s triggering everything that happened at Beechwood. A woman threw herself off the top of the building, which affected me badly. If it wasn’t for the public’s love, I wouldn’t be able to get through.”
She’s not getting any therapy or support in prison, but has someone on the outside that she speaks to on the phone.
Mystery donor offered bail money:
The handling of Melanie Shaw’s case, beset with irregularities and errors from the start, has drawn intense criticism. Observers present at the hearing in Nottingham Crown Court on Friday 25th July 2014 reported that police seemed confused over the date of the alleged offence, publicly quoting both 1 February and 4 April 2014, according to news network, UK Column.
A source close to Melanie said: “A lady in Holland – who doesn’t want to be named, was prepared to put up the [bail] money. She put in a condition that she wanted to see the evidence on Melanie, which is perfectly normal. It’s then up to the Judge to decide whether to accept the offer, not the solicitors. I believe they never put the offer through to the Judge.”
No one was available to comment at VHS Fletchers Solicitors, the firm handling Melanie’s case.
A lay legal adviser has offered her services. “We would like Melanie to represent herself but have this lay legal person with her,” added the source. “She’s very capable.”
Lost and missing records:
The number of allegations relating to abuse in former Nottinghamshire children’s homes has risen to 80, Notts police have confirmed, and 10 arrests have been made, reports the Nottingham Post (12/9/14). Seven of those arrested were released without further action and one died while on police bail. Two still remain on police bail. The investigation has been hampered by the disappearance of the records of two key witnesses: Melanie Shaw and Mickey Summers, and the closure of records at the National Archives for 75 years.
One of the most vocal campaigners for Melanie Shaw’s release is Mickey Summers, whose personal campaign for justice was picked up by the BBC last week after he led a protest resulting in the closure of Nottingham City’s Full Council Meeting. Watch the video below.
Mickey’s case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Some councillors are taking an interest now, he says, and a UKIP MP has offered to meet him.
Melanie’s difficulties in obtaining bail contrast sharply with that of a 15-year-old boy who was recently arrested and bailed, suspected of arson, after a fire ripped through an animal shelter in Manchester killing more than 60 animals and leaving 150 homeless.
Members of the public, concerned about Melanie’s case and her treatment at the Sodexo-run prison, have launched an online campaign on Facebook called Justice for Melanie Shaw.
Write to Melanie Shaw at:
Melanie Shaw A4126DE, HMP Peterborough, Saville Road, Westwood, Peterborough PE3 7PD. If you wish to send money, you must provide your full name and address. Stamps would be greatly appreciated.
By: Anna Bragga
WOW, Nott’m City Council Meeting Shut Down by Mickey Summers – MUST SEE!