Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2002] All ER (D) 356 (Jul)
Court: Administrative Court

Pitchford J

Representation Hugh Southey (instructed by Bindmans & Partners) for the defendant.
  Mark Bryant-Heron (instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service) for the prosecution.
Judgment Dates: 24 July 2002


Criminal law - Trial - Commencement of trial - Juvenile defendant - Trial judge exercising discretion to hear prosecution evidence in absence of defendant - Defendant convicted - Whether defendant having fair trial - Whether conviction safe - European Convention on Human Rights, art 6.

The Case

In cases where a defendant had plainly not voluntarily absented himself from his trial, but, on the contrary, fully expected to be present at his trial with representation, the threshold of prejudice and fairness that the defendant was required to demonstrate for the purposes of establishing that a guilty verdict might be unsafe was a comparatively low one, particularly where the defendant was a youth and where it was demonstrated that there was material about which counsel for the defendant would have wished to have taken instructions. Accordingly, the conviction of a juvenile who, having been arrested by the police in relation to an unrelated offence, was absent from his trial whilst the prosecution evidence was called, could not stand.

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