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A forensic interview with a 2-year-old girl, believed to be the youngest person to ever give evidence for a U.K. criminal court, helped prosecutors send a child sexual abuser to prison for 10 years, The Guardian reports. An intermediary registered with the nation’s Ministry of Justice helped police interview the child using simple questions and a paper figure to identify the abuser and the sexual offenses he committed.

The names of those involved in the case are not being reported to protect the identity of the child. The convicted man pleaded guilty after the 2-year-old victim named him, described his offenses by pointing to body parts on the paper figure and allowed police to take a swab of her mouth with help from the intermediary, according to The Guardian.

“Investigating crimes against young children requires expertise,” a police officer involved in the case told The Guardian. “In this investigation the specialist support of the registered intermediary made sure the victim was well supported and the police interviewer understood how to best talk to the child—ultimately gathering powerful evidence of the most serious offending.”

The interview—during which the girl told police the defendant’s name—involved “who,” “what” and “where” questions that were simple enough for a small child to understand, the intermediary told The Guardian. Police also obtained a mouth swab from the girl after the intermediary created a “game” in which everyone in the room was given gloves and swabs and pretended to brush their teeth.  The child, who initially hid from an officer wearing medical gloves, became comfortable enough after the game to allow a swab to be taken.

The chief crown prosecutor and national lead on violence against women and girls at the Crown Prosecution Service, Jenny Hopkins, told The Guardian that cases like this show that abusers will not get away with committing crimes against children they think are too young to testify against them.

“Special provisions will always be made for very young witnesses, so that they feel at ease with the process and are able to give the best possible accounts of their experience,” she said. “These might include conducting interviews in makeshift dens with toys in the room.”

Registered intermediaries are used by the Ministry of Justice in England and Wales to aid with interviews, evidence collection and communication with lawyers in cases involving children and people with disabilities that may make it more difficult for them to give evidence. Earlier this year, a registered intermediary helped a paralyzed man with motor neuron disease testify against his childhood abuser using eye-tracking technology—the first time such technology had been used to give testimony in a British criminal case, according to The Independent. (The defendant in that case was convicted and sentenced to four years for sexual offenses; the witness died shortly before the guilty verdict was announced.)

A 3-year-old boy was previously considered to be the youngest person to give evidence in a U.K. criminal case, answering questions through a video link to a courthouse and accompanied by an intermediary, The Telegraph reported. The boy testified that he was stomped on by the adult defendant Daniel Joyce (the boy was 2 at the time of the assault), and Joyce was later convicted and sentenced to 13 years.

In 2002, a 3-year-old girl testified in a United States rape case, becoming the youngest person to take the stand in the state of Arkansas, according to the New York Times. (It is unclear whether witnesses 3 years or younger have testified elsewhere in the U.S.)

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in a case involving statements made by a 3-year-old in an abuse case, finding that the convicted defendant’s right to confront his accuser had not been violated by the fact that the child had not testified in court, as his statements, which the teachers later testified to, were not made with “the primary purpose of creating an out-of-court substitute for trial testimony.”  

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