Politiet og påtalemyndighetene i Skottland utarbeidet en siktelse mot 18 år gamle Jamie Bauld for overfall og rasisme etter at han dyttet vekk en asiatisk medelev med spesielle behov og ba henne gå vekk. Bauld har Down`s syndrom, og befinner seg mentalt på en 5-årings stadium. Den rettslige pågangen varte i 7 måneder.
Jamie Bauld kan ikke knytte sine egne skolisser eller gå ut på egenhånd. Han forstår heller ikke enkle verbale konsepter som hvorvidt en dør er åpen eller lukket. Da politiet kom for å avhøre Bauld, ble de møtt av en høflig og vennlig gutt med Down`s syndrom, som ønsket dem velkommen. Etter at politiet hadde lest opp rettighetene hans og siktet ham for rasisme og overfall, uttrykte han sin enighet og takket for besøket:
Yesterday Jamie’s parents told The Times that they had been through a seven-month ordeal with the Scottish legal system over what they described as a minor fracas between two youngsters with learning difficulties.
But his parents said that he was charged with attacking a fellow student, an Asian girl who also had special needs.
Jamie’s parents described as «utterly ridiculous» the actions of the authorities in bringing adult charges against their son, who they said was not only innocent, but unable to comprehend why he had been in trouble.
They believe that he was a victim of the zero-tolerance policy on racism under which police have to respond to any complaint, however minor.
Eksperter på Down`s syndrom sier at saken vitner om ufølsomhet og er et eksempel på byråkratiets galskap.
Hendelsen som resulterte i siktelsen fant sted i september i fjor på Motherwell Colleges avdeling for elever med lærevansker og spesielle behov, der både den fornærmede og Bauld er elever:
Fiona Bauld, Jamie’s mother and full-time carer, claimed that the Asian student, who is only slightly older than Jamie, had been following her son and staring at him. Jamie had earlier complained to his parents that her behaviour scared him, and they had advised him just to walk away.
But one day, his mother said, the girl came close up to Jamie as he was eating lunch. He pushed her with one hand and told her to go away.
«It was,» Mrs Bauld said, «like two five-year-olds having an argument.» It was, therefore, no surprise when she received a phone call from the college to say that Jamie had been told off for pushing the girl, and that the girl had been reprimanded as well.
Kort etter ble Baulds foreldre imidlertid oppmerksomme på en notis i skoleavisen som etterlyste vitner til et «rasistisk overgrep» på skolen samme dag som hendelsen mellom Bauld og medeleven fant sted. Det er ikke kjent hvem som rykket inn annonsen, men som en følge av den kom to politibetjenter til Baulds hus og avhørte ham:
Jim Bauld, Jamie’s father, who was present at the interview, said: «They asked Jamie if he had slapped the girl on the face and he said yes, because he thought that was what they wanted him to say – because Down’s syndrome [people] always try to please.
«I asked them if they had any experience of Down’s syndrome. I had no idea they were going to charge him. I sat and listened in absolute disbelief when they read him his rights and charged him.
«I said it was ridiculous, he didn’t even understand simple things, like inside and out, upstairs and downstairs, whether a door is open or shut, and they were reading him his rights and he was saying, yes, he understood. Then he shook their hand and thanked them.»
The officers, Mr Bauld said, were very pleasant and told him not to worry «because the case would come to nothing». They told him they would explain to the Procurator Fiscal that Jamie had Down’s syndrome, and that the Asian girl had admitted that she had scratched her own face to mark it and referred to herself as «blackface».
Etter besøket opplyste påtalemyndighetene i brevs form at de nå hadde nok bevis til å tiltale Bauld for overfall og rasisme. Moren ringte umiddelbart og spurte om de var klar over at sønnen har Down`s syndrom. Hun fikk ikke noe svar. I desember skrev Baulds advokat til påtalemyndighetene for å forklare situasjonen. Det kom ikke noe svar på advokatens brev.
It was 7½ months after the initial incident when they received a brief letter from the Procurator Fiscal to say he would not be proceeding with the prosecution. There was no apology.
Mrs Bauld said: «The incident was blown out of all proportion. I can’t believe that two special needs people should be dealt with like this. The whole thing was handled so badly.»
A spokeswoman from Down’s Syndrome Scotland said: «I have never met any Down’s syndrome [people] who are racist. This incident should have been contained within the college. It has been very badly handled.»
Annabel Irvine, the former head of Glencryan special needs school, who taught Jamie, said: «They have been through absolute agonies. Jamie is the most polite, well-mannered boy.»
A spokesman for the Crown Office said: «There were a number of further inquiries which required to be made by the Procurator Fiscal before a final decision could be taken in this sensitive case. We were fully aware of the family’s anxieties about this matter, and the Procurator Fiscal kept the family informed throughout.»
A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said: «All we can say is that on September 4, 2007, an 18-year-old was reported to the Procurator Fiscal in connection with an alleged incident of assault and breach of the peace at Motherwell College.»
The spokeswoman said the force recognised that special care and understanding were required when dealing with «mentally disordered persons».
Tilfellet med Jamie Bauld er ikke første gangen det blir stilt spørsmål ved vurderingsevnen som blir utvist ved anklager om rasisme. I oktober i fjor ble 4-årige Rocky Smith etterforsket og utspurt om sitt menneskesyn av rektor Anne Phipps etter en rasisme-anklage. Lille Smith hadde spyttet på en 10 år gammel medelev med innvandrerbakgrunn mens de lekte sisten. I den anledningen insisterte anti-rasister på at selv små barn kan være rasister.
Talspersonen for organisasjonen Racial Harassment Forum, Tunde Bright-Davies, opplyste samtidig at helt små barn kan hate andre på grunn av hudfargen deres, og la til at hun nylig hadde møtt en 6 år gammel gutt som fortalte henne at han hadde pleid å være en rasist.
When Fiona – who lives in Cumbernauld, Lanarkshire, with her husband James, 46, a telecommunications contractor, and their daughter Stephanie, 17 – uses the word «nightmare» she is making no understatement.
Hers is a situation so ridiculous it would be laughable, had the potential ramifications not been so serious.
Her story also serves as a disturbing example of how extreme political correctness can allow minor of incidents to be blown out of all proportion