We represented a client who had been charged with sexual assault, assault by beating and an offence against public order. Our client denied the offences in their entirety and stated the allegation had been fabricated. Our client entered not guilty pleas to all the charges and the matter was listed for trial.
It was the Crown’s case that the entire incident was captured on CCTV footage. The Crown Prosecution Service did not serve their evidence until 4 days before the trial and even then, they had failed to comply with their disclosure obligations. Furthermore, following consideration of the CCTV footage, it became apparent that it did not support the complainant’s version of events. We made oral representations to the Crown Prosecution Service arguing that they had insufficient evidence to prove their case, however, they maintained that they were proceeding with the case against our client.
On the day of the trial, we made the Court aware that the Crown Prosecution Service had not complied with their disclosure obligations. This was based in part on the fact that the Crown Prosecution Service had confirmed that the complainant had made previous allegations against another individual that were not proceeded with on the day of the trial. On this basis, we served a defence case statement requesting further disclosure. In response to this, the Crown Prosecution Service served evidence which confirmed that even the officer in charge of the investigation had formed the view that the CCTV footage did not support the complainant’s account.
The complainant did not attend Court and had refused to engage with the prosecution. Despite this, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that they intended to proceed with the prosecution against our client as a victimless prosecution. The Crown Prosecution Service attempted to admit the complainant’s account under the legal principle of ‘Res Gestae’ which is an exception to the rule against hearsay. The witness whom the complainant reported the allegation to gave evidence and was cross examined. The Crown Prosecution Service also played a 999 call in which the complainant provided their account to the police. We argued that it was evident that the complainant was not so emotionally overpowered that the possibility of concoction or distortion could be disregarded. We explained to the Court that the complainant had a motive for making a false allegation. After lengthy legal argument, the Court found that the possibility of concoction or distortion could not be disregarded and therefore refused to admit the evidence on which the Crown Prosecution Service sought to rely. Accordingly, the Crown Prosecution Service had no option but to offer no evidence against our client and formal not guilty verdicts were recorded in respect of all matters.
Our client was represented by Sabrina Neves, a solicitor in our Croydon Team.