13 November, 17

Conviction quashed by Court of Appeal after judge inappropriately directs jury

Our client, a young man with no previous convictions, was charged with a number of serious historic sex offences against a member of his family. He was acquitted by the jury of all the most serious charges, but convicted of stroking her leg in a sexual way and conditionally discharged. Although he was not punished, he was put on the sex offenders’ register and stigmatised accordingly.

The trial judge directed the jury to take his good character into account in the usual way, but also made the point that there was no suggestion that the complainant had previous convictions so “in a sense it is a level playing field”. This negated the good character direction which he gave in relation to our client. He also made a number of other comments which, the Court of Appeal found, served to undermine the credibility of our client and enhance that of the complainant which meant that the conviction was unsafe.

The single conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal. The CPS applied for a re-trial on that count but the application was robustly turned down.

Our client was represented at trial and on appeal by Lee Sergent of 2 King’s Bench Walk, instructed by Leigh Webber of GT Stewart.

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