September 14, 2022
CPS Agrees to Drop Serious Violence Prosecutions for Two Clients
Our client, JS, had been charged with two offences of assault by beating. The client denied the allegations and the matter was listed for trial. Hill Twine Solicitors was instructed on a privately paying basis. Through diligent preparation and expert analysis of the law, Philomena Murphy was successful in persuading the CPS that there was not enough evidence to secure convictions. The Crown offered no evidence on the day of trial and dropped the prosecution. As a result of this outcome, the Client was able to recover his legal costs. Read on to learn more about how we were able to secure this excellent outcome for the client.
Our client, JS, had been charged with two offences of assault by beating in a domestic context, contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. He instructed Hill Twine Solicitors & Barristers to represent him on a privately-paying basis. How first appearance was at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court where he was represented by Kevin Hill.
The client denied both offences and the matter was listed for a trial. He had bail with conditions not to contact either of the complainants and not to go to a named address. The police bail conditions were, however, somewhat unusual as they allowed the client to have contact with the complainants and go to the address on two occasions for parties. At the first hearing, Kevin argued that the bail conditions were unnecessary. This was on the basis that there couldn’t actually be any real concern if the police were content to allow the client to go to the address and have contact with the complainants on two occasions. The complainants had attended court and supported the removal of the bail conditions.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was reluctant to agree to the removal of the bail conditions but Kevin stood firm and was successful in his application. The case was adjourned for trial with the client being on unconditional bail.
In criminal cases, the burden is on the prosecution to prove the case. For an assault by beating offence, this means the Court has to be sure that the defendant intentionally or recklessly used unlawful force against another. Assault by beating is also known as ‘battery’ or ‘common assault’ and carries a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
In this particular case, the two complainants were not supportive of the prosecution and had not provided witness statements. This meant that the CPS could not call them as witnesses to give evidence at trial. Instead, the CPS wanted to use videos captured by the police on their body-worn cameras when they attended the scene in response to an emergency call.
The admissibility of such evidence under what is known as the res gestae rules can be complicated. Anyone seeking to represent themselves in criminal proceedings without a lawyer would be at a significant disadvantage if the prosecution want to rely on res gestae evidence to form the case against them.
Philomena Murphy was instructed to represent JS at his trial. As is typical of Philomena, she was extremely professional in her approach to preparing the case for trial. She reminded herself of the law relating to the admissibility of res gestae and analysed the evidence in the case. She opposed the CPS relying on the body-worn video, arguing that the test for its admissibility as evidence in a trial was not met. She prepared a written argument, known as a skeleton argument, setting out the basis of her opposition. She also identified several other weaknesses in the prosecution case, including highlighting that evidence the prosecutor wanted to rely on and applications he wanted to make had not been properly served on the Defence.
On the day of trial, notwithstanding the weaknesses Philomena had identified, the prosecutor said that he was going to continue to prosecute the case. However, by the time the case was called on by the Court, the prosecutor had changed his mind. As a result of Philomena’s diligent and expert preparation of the case, the prosecutor decided that he could not use the body-worn video and did not have enough evidence to run the case at trial.
The CPS offered no evidence in the case, meaning that the case against our client was dropped. The Court granted Philomena’s application for a Defence Costs Order, allowing the client to be reimbursed for some of his legal costs.
The successful outcome for the client in this case was entirely down to Hill Twine Solicitors’ legal knowledge and a professional, expert approach to trial preparation. There is no doubt that, but for Philomena’s legal argument opposing the use of the body-worn video at trial, the CPS would have relied on the material at trial. In turn, this would have increased the risk of the client being convicted of the offences. This case is therefore a crucial reminder of the importance of being properly represented by expert Criminal Defence lawyers in court proceedings.
If you want to instruct Hill Twine Solicitors & Barristers to represent you at the police station or in court proceedings, do not hesitate to contact us.
If you have any questions or need advice