A judge’s summing up had not been so unbalanced as to render a defendant’s conviction for buggery unsafe.
Although a judge had unnecessarily and improperly intervened during a defendant’s examination-in-chief, the interventions were not so significant as to materially impair the defendant’s ability to put his case before the jury. The judge’s interventions, combined with deficiencies in his summing-up, had not deprived the defendant of a fair trial.
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.
Although a judge’s summing up of identification evidence had been deficient in places, the totality of the evidence, which included cell site evidence placing the offender at the murder scene and a text message suggesting that he was with a co-defendant, meant that the conviction for murder was safe. The judge had been entitled to reject the submission of no case to answer.
While a judge’s summing-up could have been more clearly expressed, it was not confusing, did not advocate the prosecution case and it did not render the trial unfair. Trial judges were reminded of the guidance and draft directions contained in the Crown Court Compendium. Those directions provided judges with an invaluable resource which, when adapted to the facts of a case, provided an appropriate framework for a legally correct direction.