Case Studies

Because we keep our client’ affairs confidential, any case studies to exemplify our work may be made anonymous, or (if clients are identified) taken from material in the public domain

Crime: Defence case

It may be prudent to inform the police what the suspect’s case is, however this is very much a matter of judgement and experience and any suspect in a police station should insist on speaking privately to a solicitor.

No competent solicitor will invent a defence for a client, and it is important to tell your solicitor the truth.

STUDY 1: at the police station; suspect had a good explanation for possession of articles; police had little other evidence.

Course of action: Explanation given in interview

Result:     Released without charge within 3 hours after end of interview

 STUDY 2: at the police station; suspect lied to solicitor, stating that he had an alibi; acting on this, the solicitor allowed the suspect to provide the false alibi to police, as a result of which the alibi was disproved, and the suspect had to try to persuade the court that he “acted in panic”

STUDY 3: at court for trial, previous lawyer had not filed “Defence Statement”, client suspected he had been framed by a criminal.

Course of action: Defence statement naming suspected informants.

Result:     Prosecution withdrew case (almost certainly to avoid disclosing existence of an informant)

Disclosure by prosecution:

The importance of pressing the prosecution for full disclosure cannot be overemphasised. It is my opinion that the “disclosure regime” implemented by the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act “CPIA“ is unworkable and needs reform. The police are supposed to investigate cases fairly, which includes investigating other possible suspects; however we find that all too often they suffer from “tunnel vision” which prevents them finding the true culprit; perhaps the most notorious example being the case of Colin Stagg, wrongly suspected of murder for 12 years until the real culprit was found. [See Rachel Nickell]

Police should seize and retain all material seized by them during an investigation, whether it points to or away from their “suspect”.  We have actually come across cases where witnesses approached by defence have said “I told the police all this”

Police should prepare a list (in numeric order ) of all “non sensitive” such material not being relied on by the prosecution.  It is my experience that there is institutional disregard of this; for example if police want to rely on connections with car registrations they will do so, but if they do not they will NOT list them on the grounds that they are “sensitive”; despite a Court ruling [R-v-Hopkins, LeedsCC 2004] that this is wrong the practice has not changed.

See also R-v-HEGGART


See Study 3 above

Police misbehaviour

It is wrong of police to coach witnesses, but it is very hard to show this. If it can be shown to have affected the quality of the evidence, this may result in the evidence being excluded or even in the “stay” of the prosecution R-v-Rees CCC 25.3.11