A Problem Answer to a Law of Evidence Question
In this coursework I have paid particular attention on the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999(YJCEA) , Criminal Justice Act 2003 , Code D of PACE 1984 Code of Practice and cases such as Turnbull  , R v Hanson  , R v Vye  and other relevant cases in order to solve this problem question based on criminal proceedings and interpret the statutes , the general rule and exceptions of hearsay evidence ,apply the case laws and critically evaluate and analyses them.
In this given set of facts we need to discuss and apply the legal rules of evidence in the context of criminal proceedings specifically witness competence & compellability, good character & bad character, general rules of hearsay evidence and its exceptions with the proper application of Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 ( YJCEA) and Criminal Justice Act 2003 and relevant cases , journals , articles .
- According to the facts Thomas is only 11 years old who saw two men putting electrical equipment into the boot of a white van. He along with Harry Jones identified Adam King as one of the men they saw at a video identification procedure .Now we need to focus on mainly whether Thomas is really competent to give evidence and even if he can, what type of evidence he will provide .As a child under 14 Thomas must give unsworn evidence. In this essence the test for sworn testimony is set out in R v Hayes which is unnecessary in this scenario .However, in R v MacPherson the Court of Appeal held that a 5 years old child is competent in giving witness .Moreover, the evidence of children under 14 is to be given unsworn and that a childâ€™s evidence must be revived unless it appears to the court that the child is incapable of understanding questions put to him and unable to give answers which can be understood.The court must decide not whether he is competent on grounds of age but whether he is capable of giving intelligible evidence .It is submitted that a normal 11 years old child would be .The witnesses credibility and reliability are relevant to the weight to be given to his evidence and might well from the basis of a submission of no case to answer but they are not relevant to competence . In delivering the judgment of the Court of Appeal in R v Sed Auld LJ pointed out that section 53 does not expressly provide for 100% comprehension and in this case the Court of Appeal was much influenced by the earlier decision in R v D .Allowance should be made on the witnessâ€™s performance .In this fact it may vary according to the subject matter of the questions, on the length of time between the events referred to by the witness and the date of the questioning and on any strong feelings that those events may have caused as to whether Thomas is really competent to give evidence or not .Moreover according to the statute there is no minimum age for childrenâ€™s to give evidence.
- In this fact, Thomasâ€™s parents informed the CPS that Thomas is nervous about giving evidence in court .In relation with this there is a possibility to use of Special Measures like to use screens, live link , video recorded evidence in chief , evidence to be given in private by the prosecution.In this case the court can interview the child witness and it could be a video interview if necessary .It may be considered that Thomas might encounter special difficulty in testifying .Under section 16 (1) (b) and section 16 (2) of the YJCEA 1999 may give evidence by means such as live video link or pre â€“ recording . In R ( On the application of D ) v Camberwell Green Youth Court the Divisional Court held that special measures provisions , here involving children , were compatible with article 6 ( 3 ) ( a ) of European Convention of Human Rights which embodies the defendantâ€™s right â€˜ to examine or have examined witnesses against himâ€™ .As person under 18 Thomas may also be eligible for special Measures Directions .Under section 21 ( 1 ) ( a ) of the Youth Justice Act and Criminal Evidence Act 1999(YJCEA) as amended by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 , the primary rule in requiring admission of a video interview as examination in chief and cross examination through a live link or video link at trial , applies to all witnesses under 18 , regardless of the nature of the offence . However , under section 21 if the court determines that under the primary rule special measures would minimize the quality of the witnessâ€™s evidence then court can consider a screen which will be open for Thomas to elect to give oral evidence in chief or testify in the courtroom rather than using the live link or pre recorded police video .Under section 21 (4C) of YJCEA 1999 the court will consider some factors .Although Thomas is not in an age where he might be expected to be able to give live testimony as he is nervous in giving evidence in court according to the facts but he may be accompanied by an adult to provide support for example his mother who have no personal involvement in this case .
- Now we need to assess the admissibility of the identification evidence against George Smith .It mainly deals with Code D of PACE 1984 Codes of Practice.Breaches of Code D sometimes can result in the exclusion of identification evidence under s.78 (1) of PACE. Because failure to comply with the provision in CODE D can affect the reliability of the evidence and reliability is an important consideration in the application of s.78(1).An important case on the consequences of non-compliance with the provisions of Code D is R vGorja (Ranjit).Moreover if Code D do not justify the exclusion of identification evidence, they may require appropriate warnings to be given to the jury .In order to avoid mistaken identification of a defendant by prosecution witnesses the Court of Appeal recommended a new approach by trial judges to deal with the problems of identification in Turnbull.The directions in this case only apply whenever the prosecution case depends â€˜wholly or substantially â€™on the correctness of one or more identifications of the defendant, and the defence alleges that the identifying witnesses are mistaken and in this case the prosecution substantially depends on the correctness on the identification of George. According to Shand v The Queen the prosecution may argue that the Turnbull direction must be given where identification is based on recognition. Moreover, one witness Thomas already mistaken to identify George .But sometimes Turnbull is not required when a witness failed to recognize the suspect and Thomas failed to recognize George.In R v Forbes it was held that the breach of Code D did not require the evidence to be excluded under section 78 of PACE. However , in this fact , Thomas failed to identify George.Moreover , George denied that he was involved in burglary.It could be argue that the identification procedure under Code D paragraph 3.12 is not necessary in this fact .In R v Turnbull ,the Court of Appeal (CA) laid down guidelines for the treatment of the identification evidence where the case depends wholly or substantially on the correctness of the identifications. The guidelines make it clear that the judge should remind the jury of any weakness in the identification evidence and that the judge should withdraw the case from the jury unless there is any other evidence which will support the identification evidence and in this fact there is another witness named Harry who confirmed and recognized George .In this fact it is highly likely that the prosecution will be able to argue that identification of evidence against George Smith is admissible.
- The next issues to be consider Adam Kingâ€™s previous convictions for assault, robbery and burglary . Evidence of a witnessâ€™s bad character did not have to amount to proof of a lack of credibility on the part of the witness. This question is concern with rules relating to the admissibility of defendant’s bad character and also the fairness of the changes made by CJA 2003. In this regard the Law Commission reports on bad character in 2002. The common law recognized the way in which evidence of character could be relevant. It could make allegations against a defendant more likely be true but the trial should not be used to investigate the truth of a previous allegation. Sec-101 of CJA 2003 states that in criminal proceedings evidence of defendant’s bad character is admissible if one of the factors from sub-section 101(1) (a)-101(1)(g) is satisfied .In this regard we need to consider the three fold test in R v Hansonwhich is laid down by the Court of Appeal. In this case the propensity to commit the offence is relied on as the basis for admitting evidence of a defendantâ€™s bad character. The prosecution now may argue that his previous convictions is relevant to an important matter in this trial .But previous convictions for offences of the same description or category does not automatically mean that they should be admitted.Adam Kingâ€™s bad character might be admissible by the courts as the defendant has a propensity to committee offences of this kind because a single previous conviction can be sufficient to establish propensity .Moreover in Isicheiwhere the defendantâ€™s propensity to supply cocaine was relevant to the issue of identification.
- In this issue we need to discuss as to how should the judge direct the jury about George Smithâ€™s character .In this fact George Smith already denied that he have any involvement in the burglary and he donâ€™t even have any previous conviction .Similarly in R v Aziz the house of Lords held that a person with no previous convictions was generally to be treated as being of good character and in this fact it could argue that George have good character .Whenever a evidence of good character is given , its significance must be explained to the Jury .The Court of Appeal laid down two limbs in R v Vye. In this fact it could easily argue that the judge will direct the jury based on the Vye direction about Georgeâ€™s character.However , there were some problems in Vye direction like if someone plead guilty in any other county then he is no longer of good character but in this fact it is already apparent that George donâ€™t have any previous conviction .Moreover ,in R v M (CP) it was held that once the judge decided that the defendant should be treated as a person of good character then the full Vye direction on good character should be given as it is a matter of law .The prima facie rule of practice is to deal with this by giving a qualified Vye direction rather than no direction at all. According to R v Doncaster it can easily argue that if the defendant has no previous conviction but bad character evidence is given under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 then a modified direction should be given .From the above discussion it can easily argue that the judge in this scenario should direct the jury about George Smithâ€™s character with Vye direction because it is the prima facie rule or practice.
- Now we need to discuss the issue as to whether the persecution will be permitted to adduce the written statement of Harry who is moving to New Zealand .From this issue it is apparent that we need to consider the statement as hearsay evidence which is defined as a statement made outside off the court with the purpose of showing that the statement is true.But generally in criminal cases hearsay is inadmissible which is also affirmed by Lord Normand in Teper v R .Moreover in Myers v DPP it was held that a contemporaneous record made by workers in a motor car factory of cylinder block and chassis numbers was held to be inadmissible hearsay.In this fact , we need to focus if the prosecution made a written statement from Harry then whether it will be admissible.In this scenario , Harry was outside of UK and in relating with these sort of issue the Law Commission introduced a â€˜reasonable practicability â€˜ test which require the party wishing to adduce the evidence to make reasonable efforts to bring the witness to court but the court will take into account some factors such as the seriousness of the case and the importance of the information contained in the statement.Moreover , in R v Castillio and Others it was held that it was not reasonably practicable for the witness to attend and important consideration was given to the evidence given by the witness.The prosecution also argue that it falls within the exception of the general rule as the witness Harry moved outside of UK and it was beyond reasonable doubt.From the above discussion it is highly likely that the prosecution will be able to adduce the written statement of Harry at the trial.
Total Word Count = 3208
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- Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 ( YJCEA)
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- Code of Practice for the Identification of Persons by Police Officers (Code D) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).
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- The Law Commission (EVIDENCE OF BAD CHARACTER IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS Report on a reference under section 3(1)(e) of the Law Commissions Act 1965 )
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- Spencer,J.R ,Evidence of Bad Character (Hart , London,2010)
- Byron (1999) The Times, 10 March and Gayle  2 Cr App R 130
- David Ormerodâ€™s commentary in  Crim LR 10, 793â€“798
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- human rightsâ€™  Crim LR 4, 255â€“74.
- Mirfield, P. â€˜Character and credibilityâ€™  Crim LR 3, 135â€“51
- Redmayne, M. â€˜Recognising propensityâ€™  Crim LR 3, 177â€“98
- Munday, R. â€˜Single act propensityâ€™  J Crim L 74(2), 127â€“44
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- Roberts, P. and A. Zuckerman, â€˜Implied assertions and the logic of hearsayâ€™
- Birch, D. â€˜Interpreting the New Concept of Hearsayâ€™ (2010) CLJ 72.
- R v Hayes  1 WLR 234
- R v MacPherson  EWCA Crim 3605
- R v Sed EWCA Crim 1294
- R v D  2 Cr App R 36
- R v K  EWCA Crim 472
- R v Powell  EWCA Crim 3
- R ( On the application of D ) v Camberwell Green Youth Court  EWHC Admin 22
- R v Gorja (Ranjit)  EWCA Crim 1939
- R v Forbes  1 All ER 686
- Turnbull  QB 224
- Shand v The Queen  1 WLR 69, 72
- R v Nicholson  1 Cr App R 182
- Thornton  1 Cr App R 578 and Slater  1 Cr App R 584
- R v Oscar  Crim LR 778
- Limburne and Bleasdale  Crim LR 118.
- R v Caldwell  99 Cr App R 73
- R v Hanson  1 WLR 3169
- Tully and Wood (2007) 171 JP 25
- R v McDonald[ 2007] EWCA Crim 1194.
- Isichei  EWCA Crim 1815
- R v Aziz  AC 41
- R v Vye(1993) 97 Cr App R 134.
- Teper v R  AC 480 at 486
- Myers v DPP  AC1001
- R v Castillio and Others  1 Cr App R 438
- R v Bray  88 Cr App R 354
- R v Acton Justices ex p McMullen 1990 92 Cr App R 98
Section 56(1) &(2) of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
 1 WLR 234
 EWCA Crim 3605
Section 53 (3) of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
R v MacPherson  EWCA Crim 3605 ,  1 Cr App R 30
 EWCA Crim 1294
 2 Cr App R 36
Paragraph 45 â€“ 46 where there is a danger that a complainant may be incompetent , the judge will usually before the trial have seen a video recording of the complainantâ€™s interview with the police and so will be in some position to make a decision about competence after hearing submissions from prosecution and defence under Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 , section 27
Section 53(1) 0f Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
Section 23 of Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 and R v Brown  EWCA Crim 1620
Section 24 of Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
Section 27 of Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
Section 25 of Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
Guidance for Vulnerable or Intimidated Witness , including children (â€œThe Memorandum 2002) and it is also available in
Rv K  EWCA Crim 472 , R v Powell  EWCA Crim 3
Section 16 ( 1 ) ( b) of YJCEA 1999 states that if the court considers that the quality of evidence given by the witness is likely to be diminished by reason of any circumstances falling within subsection ( 2 ) like section 16 ( 2 ) ( a ) states that the witness suffers from mental disorder within the meaning of Mental Health Act 1983 .
 EWHC Admin 22
Article 6 (3) ( a ) of ECHR states that everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:
(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;
Section 21 (1) ( a) of YJCEA 1999 states that a witness in criminal proceedings is a â€˜child witnessâ€™ if he is an eligible witness by reason of section 16 ( 1 ) ( a) of YJCEA states that whether or not he is an eligible witness by reason of any other provision of section 16 or 17 of YJCEA
R v Camberwell Green Youth Court  1 WLR 393
R v Powell [ 2006] 1 Cr App R 31
Under section 21 (4C) of YJCEA 1999 the court will consider some factors such as (a) the childâ€™s age and maturity , (b) the childâ€™s ability to understand the consequence of giving evidence in a different way , (c) the relationship between the witness and the accused , (d) the childâ€™s social and cultural background and ethnic origins and (e) the nature and alleged circumstances of the offence to which the proceedings relate .
 EWCA Crim 1939
Forbes  1 All ER 686
 QB 224.
 1 WLR 69, 72
Thornton  1 Cr App R 578 and Slater  1 Cr App R 584
Byron (1999) The Times, 10 March and Gayle  2 Cr App R 130
Code D paragraph 3.12
 1 AC 473
R v Nicholson  1 Cr App R 182 , R v Oscar  Crim LR 778
(Limburne and Bleasdale  Crim LR 118.
 QB 224
R v Caldwell  99 Cr App R 73
Section 100(1)(b) of Criminal Justice Act 2003
The Law Commission report (2002 ,paras . 8.12-8.19) stated that ,â€™References in this Act to evidence of a personâ€™s bad character are references to evidence which shows or tends to show that (a) he has committed an offence or (b) he has behaved or is disposed to behave in a way that , in the opinion of the court , might be viewed with disapproval by a reasonable person.’
R v D  EWCA Crim 2137
Sec-101 provide seven gate ways through which evidence of defendant’s bad character can be admitted.They are:—-( a ) all parties to the proceedings agree to the evidence being admissible, ( b ) the evidence is adduced by the defendant himself or is given in answer to a question asked by him in cross-examination and intended to elicit it, ( c ) it is important explanatory evidence, ( d ) it is relevant to an important matter in issue between the defendant and the prosecution, ( e ) it has substantial probative in relation to an important matter in issue between defendant and a co-defendant, ( f ) it is evidence to correct a false impression given by the defendant, or ( g ) the defendant has made an attack on another person’s character.
The three fold test in R v Hanson  1 WLR 3169 is 1) whether the history of convictions establish a propensity to committee offences of the kind charged, 2) whether that propensity makes it more likely that the defendant committed the offence charged, 3) whether it is unjust to rely on the convictions of the same descriptions on category and, in any event, whether the proceedings would be unfair if they were admitted.
Redmayne, M. â€˜Recognising propensityâ€™  Crim LR 3, 177â€“98
Section 101(1)(d) of Criminal Justice Act 2003 .
Section 103(3) and 101(3) of Criminal Justice Act 2003
(Tully and Wood) (2007) 171 JP 25
R v McDonald [ 2007] EWCA Crim 1194.
 EWCA Crim 1815
Munday, R. â€˜Single act propensityâ€™  J Crim L 74(2), 127â€“44
 AC 41
R v M (CP)  2 Cr App R 3
The two limbs in R v Vye (1993) 97 Cr App R 134 is namely the relevance of good character to credibility and the relevance of good character to the question whether the defendant was likely to have behaved as alleged by the prosecution
 2 Cr App R 3
R v Gray  2 Cr App R 498
 EWCA Crim 5
R v H  Crim LR 205
Section 115(2) of Criminal Justice Act 2003
Section 114( 1) of Criminal Justice Act 2003
 AC 480 at 486
Section 114 of Criminal Justice Act 2003
R v Bray  88 Cr App R 354
Law Commission No 245 , 1997 , para 8.39
 1 Cr App R 438
R v Acton Justices ex p McMullen 1990 92 Cr App R 98Order Now