WITNESSES

[2020] EWCA Crim 284
[2020] EWCA Crim 284
CA (Crim Div) (Fulford LJ, Sweeney J, Lambert J)
28 February 2020

A judge had erred in refusing to admit bad character evidence against a witness whose credibility was at issue in a criminal trial. The witness had been accused of attempting to blackmail another witness by saying that she would allege sexual misconduct against him if he did not pay her money. The judge had erred in concluding that the blackmail allegation was not evidence of a false complaint and in holding that the allegation did not have substantial probative value because the evidential dispute could not be resolved by a jury.

[2020] EWCA Crim 137
[2020] EWCA Crim 137
CA (Crim Div) (Simon LJ, Cutts J, Eady J)
12 February 2020

In a rape trial where the central issue was credibility, the judge had been entitled to permit the prosecution to adduce evidence of a defence witness’s bad character under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.100(1)(b). The fact that the witness had been convicted of serious sexual offences might fairly be regarded as providing an explanation of why he might be prepared to lie to assist a friend accused of similar offences.

[2019] EWCA Crim 2271
[2019] EWCA Crim 2271
CA (Crim Div) (Fulford LJ, Spencer J, William Davis J)
19 December 2019

It was for the defence at trial to take decisions as to whether to use or act on disclosed unused material, and a failure to inspect such material was unlikely to justify a later application, following conviction, for it to be introduced as fresh evidence. The court emphasised that only in exceptional circumstances would evidence be admitted that could have been adduced at trial.

CA (Crim Div) (Davis LJ, Nicol J, Johnson J)
19 December 2019

Although the transcript of a Crown witness’s interview should have been disclosed to the defence, there was no contradiction in it compared to what was said at trial that was capable of affecting the safety of an offender’s conviction for possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

[2019] NICA 37
[2019] NICA 37
CA (NI) (Morgan LCJ, Stephens LJ, Maguire J)
27 June 2019

Panels of the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland had the power to call a witness to give oral evidence where the failure to do so might cause a substantial injustice or a fundamental procedural unfairness. As recognised in K’s Application for Judicial Review, Re [2017] NIQB 34, the Parole Commissioners’ Rules (Northern Ireland) 2009 r.3 gave the panels a wide power to regulate their own procedure, and although they were not provided with an express power to call witnesses, they were not prohibited from doing so.

[2019] EWCA Crim 887
[2019] EWCA Crim 887
CA (Crim Div) (Nicola Davies LJ, Spencer J, Morris J)
22 May 2019

Despite the absence of certain evidence at trial, the appellant’s convictions for sexual assault and rape of his half-sister were safe, because the totality of the trial process including the directions given and the summing up was fair.

[2018] EWHC 3044 (Admin)
[2018] EWHC 3044 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Holroyde LJ, Whipple J)
9 October 2018

In dismissing an appeal by way of case stated against an assault conviction, the court questioned the use of a form by magistrates which used a numerical scale to indicate an assessment of witness evidence. The court considered the form to be at best unhelpful and at worst capable of giving rise to misunderstanding and urged the magistrates’ clerk to urgently consider whether it should be amended or used at all.

QBD (Admin) (Nicol J)
24 April 2018

A magistrates’ court had not properly exercised its discretion in finding that it was in the interests of justice to allow a complainant’s written statement to be admitted under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.114(1)(d) where the appellant had failed to adequately particularise the areas of dispute for the trial, the appellant had required the complainant’s attendance at trial, the court had allowed time for the evidence and the complainant had attended to give evidence.

QBD (Birmingham) (Judge McKenna)
21 March 2018

Immediate custodial sentences of three months’ imprisonment were appropriate for two men who made false witness statements and misled a trial judge as to the independence of an important witness to a road traffic accident. But for the substantial mitigation put forward, the sentences would have been six months.

DC (Treacy LJ, Dove J)
25 October 2017

A magistrates’ court had erred in deciding to adjourn a trial for drink driving where the defendant was ready to proceed but where the prosecution had failed to warn a relevant witness who did not appear before the court as a result.

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