ACCOMPLICES

Where a defendant jointly charged with murder denied being the killer, but refused at trial to either eliminate or identify his co-defendant as the killer despite answering questions from prosecuting counsel in a manner which suggested that he was, it had not been unfair for the co-defendant’s counsel in his closing submissions to attack the defendant’s credibility, or for the judge to give an accomplice warning to the jury.

[2014] EWCA Crim 521

An interview by police officers with an accomplice witness, at the request of counsel for the Crown, to address inconsistencies in his witness statement after he had undergone a lengthy process of statement-taking should not have happened. However, the trial was not rendered unfair as the trial process was apt to cope with the situation.

[2013] EWCA Crim 83

Although two prosecution witnesses had been told too much by the police about the reasons for the appellant’s retrial for manslaughter, and an anonymity order in respect of one of the witnesses had not been necessary to protect him or his family, the retrial was fair and the conviction was safe. The appellant’s 16-year custodial sentence did not, however, take sufficient account of the fact that he had been the passenger in a vehicle that had run over and killed the victim, and as such was less culpable than the driver. A sentence higher than 14 years’ imprisonment could not be justified.

[2011] EWCA Crim 2710

The judge’s repeated references, when summing up in a murder trial, to his ruling on a voir dire, to the effect that the defendant had signed a confession voluntarily, amounted to a material irregularity given that the defendant had alleged that the confession had been obtained as a result of police violence.

[2011] UKPC 18

The fact that a co-defendant to a charge of murder had entered into an agreement to assist the authorities which provided that he would plead guilty to manslaughter in circumstances where there was no legal basis for that offence did not made the admission of his evidence at the trial of the other defendants an abuse or unfair.

[2010] EWCA Crim 2740

A trial judge’s remarks made when sentencing, at an earlier date, a prosecution witness and then repeated without advance warning during the cross-examination of that witness during the trial at issue had not prejudiced the fairness of the trial as the remarks could not have been seen as endorsing or commenting upon every detailed part of the evidence which the prosecution witness gave at trial.

[2009] EWCA Crim 1617

While it would have been desirable for an identification parade to have been held in a case that depended on the recognition evidence of an accomplice and in which the offence carried the death penalty, the failure to hold such a parade did not, in the circumstances, amount to a miscarriage of justice.

[2009] UKPC 12

A conviction for conspiracy to launder the proceeds of drug sales was unsafe in circumstances where the judge had failed to warn the jury to approach with caution the evidence of an accomplice who had given no viable explanation for why he had not implicated the defendant in his police witness statements but had implicated him extensively in his evidence at trial.

[2007] EWCA Crim 1165

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.76A only applied to a defendant and co-defendant who were together in a trial or a Newton hearing on disputed facts. It did not apply in circumstances such as the instant case where a co-accused had pleaded guilty and was not standing trial with the defendant.

[2007] EWCA Crim 36

The defendant’s right under Art.6 European Convention on Human Rights had not been infringed by police failure to maintain records of any threats, offers of immunity from prosecution and other inducements that were or might have been offered to key prosecution witnesses, all of whom were either accomplices or lesser participants tainted by the offences.

[2003] EWCA Crim 2667

Substantial periods of imprisonment imposed on the appellants following their conviction on various counts of conspiracy to rob were reduced by 12 months solely to take account of the long delay between the date of sentencing and the hearing of their otherwise unsuccessful appeals.

[2003] EWCA Crim 1372

An eight-year sentence for 11 counts of robbery was unduly lenient and did not reflect the seriousness of the offences and the need for the public to be protected.

[2003] EWCA Crim 237

There was no authority for the proposition that if a confession was unreliable as against a confessing defendant it would similarly be unreliable by way of Queen’s evidence against accomplices. The judge had no discretion to exclude cross-examination on any matter of a prosecution witness relevant to a defendant’s defence, whether or not it caused prejudice to a co-defendant.

[2003] EWCA Crim 193

Where a witness has been found unreliable his testimony must be corroborated by independent evidence.

[2003] EWCA Crim 27

Confession statements by the defendants had been given involuntarily and should not have been admitted in evidence at their trial. Having so concluded the Court of Appeal of Grenada had been wrong to apply the proviso in the case of one of the defendants but in the case of the other defendant a retrial was appropriate.

It was particularly important in a case where a defendant was being tried for a capital offence that his rights were fully observed and that the significance of any infringement was considered by the judge.

The defendant’s appeal against his two convictions for burglary was unsuccessful because corroboration warnings were, following the introduction of s.32(1) Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, entirely a matter for the trial judge’s discretion and that discretion had not been exercised unreasonably in the Wednesbury sense in the present case.