To put Hyde, who suffered from a number of chronic mental health problems – including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, and suicidal tendencies – through a second trial, when she had already served five years in prison, is nothing short of barbaric.
Stacey Hyde’s story is a shocking insight into how the law treats young, abused women
When Emma Humphreys was acquitted of murder by the court of appeal in July 1995, it marked a change in the law in cases of abused women who kill violent men. Emma had stabbed Trevor Armitage, her violent boyfriend/pimp after he threatened her with a “gang bang”, and this vulnerable 16-year-old woman could take no more. In her short life she had already been witness to domestic violence, raped countless times, and prostituted while running away from a violent stepfather. At her appeal, following a three-year campaign by Justice for Women, lawyers argued that the provocation that led Humphreys to kill Armitage had built up over the years, and that all of the previous violence from men she had experienced should be taken into account.
But that change in the law did not benefit another vulnerable and abused young woman, Stacey Hyde, who was acquitted of murder yesterday, following a retrial. Hyde’s case begs the question: what are we doing to support young women who suffer male violence?
Vincent Francis, the deceased, had a history of violence towards women. The court at both trials accepted that there had been 27 previous acts of domestic violence towards his girlfriend, Holly Banwell, prior to the incident on the night he died, and that he had also attacked a former partner. At the retrial, Hyde’s lawyer described how Francis would regularly pull clumps of Banwell’s hair out by the roots, and likened the experience to “torture”.