Victory for JFH Crime at Willesden Magistrates Court
Duncan Roberts recently represented SM in relation to an allegation of common assault on his ex-partner. The trial took place at the Willesden Magistrates Court with a rather unusual occurrence during an adjournment of the proceedings.
The trial itself was fairly routine with SM raising the issue of self-defence as the reason for physical contact between himself and the complainant. During her evidence in chief and cross-examination the complainant accepted that she was angry with SM and had taken possession of his expensive laptop and had fully intended to smash it. She accepted that had she not been physically stopped she would have smashed it.
SM’s evidence was consistent with his account in interview and was credible and consistent in the face of cross-examination by the prosecution. After less than 10 minutes of deliberating, the magistrates found that they could not be sure that the prosecution had disproved self-defence of property and acquitted SM.
Chair retired in the middle of the case
Due to a lack of court time, the matter had to go ‘part-heard’ after the prosecution had concluded their case. This in itself is not unusual, however, the chair of the bench turned 70 the day after the trial was originally before the court. The Courts Act 2003 stipulates that 70 is the mandatory retirement age for magistrates.
An eagle-eyed legal adviser was aware of the issues that may have been caused by this and contacted the Lord Chancellor’s office for special dispensation for the former chair to return to the bench to conclude this particular case as it was part-heard.
Despite postponing the case for the Lord Chancellor’s office to return the legal adviser’s numerous calls, the permission was not forthcoming.
As SM was keen to have the matter resolved he instructed that he would be content with the matter to proceed with just two lay magistrates despite the potential deadlock if they were unable to decide on the outcome of the case.
Eventually it was proposed that the retired chair take a seat on the bench as an ‘interested observer’ so that he could hear the remainder of the case, a final attempt would then be made to obtain the Lord Chancellor’s consent; if granted he could sit with his colleagues for deliberation, if not the decision would be made by just the remaining two.
Unfortunately, the Lord Chancellor had still not made his way through his email and urgent messages by 12:30 when the evidence had finished. He therefore was not party to the discussions which saw our client acquitted.
We would like to thank the chair for taking the time to sit as an observer in the hope that he would be granted permission and to wish him a long and happy retirement.
If you are facing criminal proceedings in the Magistrates or Crown Court and want the team at JFH Crime to represent you, please contact us on 020 7388 1658 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Duncan Roberts, Solicitor
Win for JFH Crime at Harrow Crown Court
Duncan Roberts and counsel secured a not guilty verdict for his client at the Harrow Crown Court following an allegation of sexual assault.
Our client was accused of a serious sexually assault; the woman alleged that she had been forced to engage in a series of sexual acts against her will. Our client denied the offence, stating that any sexual contact had been with the woman’s consent. A full denial was made in an initial interview and the defendant entered a ‘not guilty’ plea at the Magistrates Court. The case was committed to the Crown Court. Unusually our client declined to attend the trial and the Court decided to proceed in his absence.
We were able to challenge the prosecution evidence, even without being able to put forward a positive defence.
After less than an hour deliberating, the jury unanimously found our client not guilty.
Putting the prosecution to proof
This case serves as a good example of “putting the prosecution to proof”. This can be just as important in conducting criminal litigation as advancing a positive defence. The burden of proof rests with the prosecution and they must convince a jury, or magistrates, of the defendant’s guilt. Clearly, there must have been some doubt in this jury’s mind even without the defendant giving evidence.
Of course, it should not be seen as an encouragement not to attend a trial. Our client has been found not guilty of a serious sexual offence, but will now be facing a charge of failing to surrender.
If you are facing criminal proceedings in either the Magistrates or Crown Court and require representation contact us on 020 7 388 1658 or email@example.com.
Duncan Roberts, Solicitor