A judge’s decision to stay a prosecution as an abuse of process on the basis of a failure by the prosecution to properly pursue a line of enquiry when investigating allegations of sexual assault was wrong in principle and did not constitute a reasonable exercise of his discretion.
The court quashed convictions where critical information had been taken from the Preparation for Effective Trial form and wrongly treated as evidence.
A judge had been entitled to increase the amount of confiscation orders pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 s.22 after the Crown had discovered a further realisable asset, namely a property. The defendant’s case that a third party had an interest in the property was incredible and the judge had not erred in questioning the defendant and third party before reaching that conclusion.
It was best practice for a judge to direct a jury before the cross-examination of a vulnerable witness that limitations had been placed on the defence counsel and to explain after the cross-examination the type of issues which the defendant would have wished to explore in further detail. Such directions should be repeated in the summing up.
In dismissing an appeal by way of case stated against an assault conviction, the court questioned the use of a form by magistrates which used a numerical scale to indicate an assessment of witness evidence. The court considered the form to be at best unhelpful and at worst capable of giving rise to misunderstanding and urged the magistrates’ clerk to urgently consider whether it should be amended or used at all.