Last week, 2nd December 2014, HHJ Joseph QC stayed an NCA prosecution at the Old Bailey, getting quite a lot of media attention. The case was shocking, quite frankly, and almost beggars belief. If you are a Tory with access to the high command, your christmas present to me could be to staple a copy of the judgment to Chris Grayling’s forehead.
I’ve uploaded the full judgement, edited as per the Judge’s order, here. Thanks very much to Dominic Bell, leading counsel to the main defendant, for making this available.
As they were discharged, the Judge said to the jury “Please don’t leave the building thinking this is how cases are normally conducted“. That is, thankfully, still correct. At least in the sense that so many things go so badly wrong in one high profile case.
The common themes here however, especially lack of investigation and lack of disclosure, are now present in many, many trials. They will only get worse as funding is cut to the CPS and Defence, with the consequence of the judiciary forcing cases through quickly and on the cheap. Talking about this case last week I mentioned three cases I have dealt with recently –
(1) Robbery – Defendant with a string of previous gives a very improbable account in interview. There’s no CCTV we are told. After pushing and pushing, there is CCTV which shows a black man committing the robbery. Defendant is white. Case dropped a few weeks before the warned list
(2) Shoplifting – Case stayed as an abuse of process on the day of trial due to complete failure to investigate or do any work at all on the case, despite the defence supplying details of possible witnesses etc
(3) Another Robbery – The CRIS report is ‘CND’ – clearly not disclosable, and is not handed over until the second day of trial, despite two s8 applications. Prosecution then offer no evidence as it completely undermines the ID and, in circumstances that the defendant could not have known of his existence, provides an alibi witness that would effectively exonerates the defendant.
This isn’t because I’m unlucky, or get cases beset with problems, or because the CPS don’t like me. It’s the inevitable consequence of not funding a system properly.