A Judge has demanded an inquiry into how the Crown Prosecution Service handled the case of a wife who has been cleared of attacking her estranged husband.
Julie Berriman sobbed in the dock of Exeter Crown Court as she was told the case against her was not being pursued after a review of the evidence.
The 42-year-old had been accused of wounding her ex husband with a coffee cup during a violent argument at his Fremington home but the case collapsed after photographs showed she had also suffered injuries.
No arrangements had been made for a 16-year-old boy, who was supposed to be the only independent witness, to give evidence and his video taped interview had not been transcribed or edited.
It meant the case would have to be delayed while the work was done or he would have to appear in a court room to give his evidence, in breach of guidelines for handling young witnesses and the directions of the judge at an earlier hearing.
Judge Phillip Wassall also criticised the CPS for not reviewing the case earlier, despite the barrister at the earlier case management hearing agreeing to do so.
He said: "It is a matter of real public concern. The courts try to ensure that those who are witnesses or the alleged victims of crime are properly supported in the way they give evidence.
“An inquiry needs to take place within the CPS. They are a public service charged with looking after witnesses but has let them down in this case.
“This is a case involving a husband and wife and there is plainly evidence of injury to both sides and a young witness has been required to give evidence in court without a close eye being taken on that.
“The fact this case was not scrutinized earlier is another matter of considerable concern. It should have been considered a long time before today and the defendant and the young witness should not have been put through this.
“The fact that a case as sensitive and difficult as this has to be reconsidered by the prosecution on the day of the trial is completely unacceptable. It should have been sorted out before now.
“I will formally enter a verdict of not guilty. It has taken far too long to reach this stage from every point of view, but the Crown have now taken an entirely sensible decision.”
Mr Gareth Evans, who took over the prosecution at a very late stage, told the judge that the lawyer who appeared at the case management hearing had asked questions about the case which had not been answered by the CPS.
Miss Berriman, of Sunnyview, Winkleigh, denied wounding her ex husband Stephen Pearce during an argument at his home in Fremington, North Devon in January this year.
She was found not guilty and discharged by the Judge.