Page last updated at 16:39 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 17:39 UK

Son with Down's accused of racism

Jim, Jamie and Fiona Bauld
The Bauld family said they went through eight months of hell

The parents of a teenager with Down's syndrome accused of a racist assault have called for changes in how the law deals with people with special needs.

Jamie Bauld, 19, who has a mental age of five, was told he could be charged with assaulting an Asian pupil at Motherwell College last September.

Fiona and Jim Bauld said that although the matter had now been dropped, the case should never have gone that far.

The Crown Office has apologised for any distress caused to the family.

The Baulds, from Cumbernauld, said they were first made aware of the incident on 4 September when someone from the college called to say Jamie had pushed another pupil, but the matter had been resolved and it was nothing to worry about.

But a few weeks later they received another call saying the police had become involved and an advert had been placed in the local newspaper calling for witnesses to a "racist assault" at the college.

The police visited the house to interview Jamie, but Mr Bauld said his son did not even understand what racism was.

"Jamie didn't really understand what was going on because nothing had happened. He was as surprised as we were," he said.

Jim Bauld defends his son Jamie

Mr Bauld said his son even shook the officers' hands after the interview, in which he heard he could be charged with assaulting the other pupil, and thanked them.

Mrs Bauld said police needed more training to deal with people with special needs.

"I don't think the police have enough training to cope with people with learning difficulties," she said.

"If they have to come over and speak to someone they should bring along somebody who can deal with people with learning difficulties."

Mr Bauld added: "They were addressing Jamie like he was over 18, but I told them he couldn't deal with questioning like that. He'll more or less say what you want him to say, simple as that."

Pandora Summerfield, director of Down's Syndrome Scotland, said they were concerned by the incident.

She said: "As far as we're aware there are very clear guidelines that the police should follow when they interview somebody who is classified as a vulnerable adult and as far as we know, because we haven't had any direct involvement with the family, those weren't followed in this incident and they should have been."

Mr and Mrs Bauld also criticised the procurator fiscal for not keeping them updated with the progress of Jamie's case. They did not know if charges would be pursued against their son for eight months.

The Crown Office said in a statement: "We have carried out a detailed review of how this case was dealt with. We can confirm that there were a number of further inquiries that were required to be made by the procurator fiscal before a final decision could be taken in this very sensitive case.

"We appreciate that the case was not concluded as quickly as it may have been and we apologise for any distress the family may have suffered."

A spokeswoman from Strathclyde Police said: "On September 4, 2007, an 18-year-old male was reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with an alleged incident of assault and breach of the peace at Motherwell College. Any further information would have to come from the fiscal."

Mrs Bauld said they hoped that lessons could be learnt from Jamie's case.

She said: "It's been absolutely terrible. I've been shattered for eight months because I just couldn't believe what had happened to him. But I'm just glad that it's all over and done with and I don't want it to happen to anybody else."

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