UK News Is Responsible Child a true story? How real events inspired the BBC One drama

19:55  12 december  2019
19:55  12 december  2019 Source:   inews.co.uk

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Responsible Child is a one-off drama set to air on the BBC in December that tells the fictional story of a 12-year-old child who kills his abusive stepfather, but is then tried in an adult court.

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It will spark debate about whether a child can be held legally responsible for the crime - and the other issues that surround the issue.

But is it based on a real life event?

Here's everything we know so far:

What is the drama about?

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Veronica (DEBBIE HONEYWOOD), Rafael (Ray) McCullin (BILLY BARRATT), Nathan (JAMES TARPEY) (Photo: BBC)

Ray (Billy Barratt) and his 23 year-old brother Nathan (James Tarpey) are arrested after stabbing their mother’s partner. Whatever the circumstances that have led a child to kill, the law is clear: the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10, and at 12 years old, Ray must stand trial in an adult court.

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Told in two time frames, the film follows both the events that led up to the murder and the unfolding drama of the trial, taking us inside a young boy’s experience of the legal system and asking powerful questions about responsibility and redemption.

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Is it based on a true story?

The story is said to be in part inspired by the case of 14-year-old Jerome Ellis, and his older brother, Joshua, 23 who fatally stabbed their stepfather in 2013.

Jerome - like Ray - was a carer for his half-siblings, and Joshua suffered with depression. They said that their stepfather had been abusive.

In August 2013, Jerome and Joshua stabbed Neil Tulley, 54, to death as he lay sleeping on the sofa at the family home in Guilford, Surrey.

Neil Tulley (Photo: Surrey Police)

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Jerome and Joshua's court trial took place in April 2014, and Judge Christopher Critchlow said the evidence was unclear about who did what in the attack.

The court was told that a year earlier, Tulley threatened to kill Joshua and swung at him with an axe. Tulley had later been arrested and charged with making threats to kill but was cleared by a jury.

The judge added it was a "tragic case", commenting that Jerome had been neglected and was living in an abusive environment.

He also commented: "Given your youth, this court hopes that whatever therapy or psychotherapy you receive will ensure that upon release you will be able to lead a normal life."

Jerome was sentenced to six years in detention for manslaughter on the basis of loss of control.

Joshua Ellis (Photo: Surrey Police)

His older brother, Joshua, was told he would serve a minimum of 14 years in prison for the murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Preston said at the time: "The sentence today reflects the severity of the crime and it is never an easy decision for the judge or jury to make with such emotive events to be considered.

"This was a tragic case in which a man was fatally injured and two families have been completely devastated as a result. Everybody involved in this case is a victim of circumstance."

What does the director say about the drama?

BAFTA-award winning documentary maker Nick Holt, says: “Whilst making the film, I discovered that in England, we put children as young as ten on trial for murder. It’s an extraordinary and little-known aspect of our justice system. Ten is one of the lowest ages in the world and breaches our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time, since I attended the trial on which our film is based, and I'm delighted to be working with Kudos and the BBC.”

Responsible Child is on BBC Two on Monday 16 December at 9pm.

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