Lucy was 6-years-old and attended a mainstream school. She needed to give evidence in court about alleged sexual abuse, having disclosed details some months before in a camera recorded interview. The recorded interview was in place of the written statement that an adult with no difficulties would have provided. Although, at first, Lucy appeared to be functioning as a typical child of her age, in her police interview, Lucy had not understood some adult vocabulary, sentence structures and certain question types such as ‘Why did you not tell your mother before?’.
The RI met with the judge and barristers in advance of the trial at a Ground Rules Hearing to explain her recommendations and proposed the use of visual aids. She then sat alongside Lucy during cross-examination via a live TV link. If the barrister’s questions were too complex, the RI had the power to advise on the use of simpler phrases. At times, alternative words were suggested and, in this way, the process of two-way communication ran more smoothly. Lucy used the visual aids when needed; and found it helpful to point to the pictures she had drawn. One picture represented her ‘request’ for questions to be asked more slowly so that she had more time to think.