On Friday 15th September the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision of the Crown Court at Chester to stay proceedings against a health care professional facing allegations of sexual assault.
The allegations dated back to 2015. The Crown ignored evidence supportive of the defendant’s case. It failed to disclose material which might have assisted the defence despite repeated requests and the matter being listed for a disclosure hearing.
One of the two charges faced by the defendant was dropped in the face of expert evidence obtained. The defence made a number of requests of the Crown that it consider whether the case continued to meet the charging standard, in other words whether there was still a realistic prospect of conviction.
On the day of trial unused material that had been in the possession of the prosecution for many months was made available to the defence. A last minute statement from the complainant was served. Further enquiries were necessary and the trial was adjourned with further orders for disclosure to be made.
Successful Abuse of Process Argument
The Crown ultimately failed to comply with the orders. In May of 2017 the defence listed the matter for an abuse of process application. Following a hearing before the Crown Court the proceedings against the defendant were stayed.
The Crown appealed the decision of the Crown Court Judge and on 15th September the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal ordering costs for the defendant.
Matthew Claughton – Criminal Defence Solicitor
The defendant was represented by Olliers’ Director Matthew Claughton:
“My client faced proceedings should not have been brought that had they been investigated in full from the outset. His health has suffered greatly and he has not worked for almost two years. The decision of the Crown Court Judge, upheld by the Court of Appeal was the right one.
Criminal cases, particularly those containing sexual allegations are not always won before a jury. This case involved meticulous preparation and a dogged approach to pursuing the Crown for unused material that assisted the defence. We also applied pressure upon the Crown by reminding them of their continuing duty to keep under review the strength of their case, a strategy that often leads to a case being dropped without the ordeal of a trial. In this case that wasn’t to be. Following the adjournment of the trial and a further failure to comply with orders for disclosure the abuse application was listed.
This case was a team effort, with great input from my client’s family and the instruction of one of the country’s leading Queen’s Counsel Kate Blackwell QC.
I hope now that my client’s life can return to normal.”
Contact Matthew Claughton
Matthew can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 0161 827 7010.