Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2002] All ER (D) 211 (Oct)
Neutral Citation: [2002] UKPC 52
Court: Privy Council

Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Hutton, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry and Sir Philip Otton

Judgment Dates: 14 October 2002


Commonwealth and dependencies - Trinidad and Tobago - Criminal evidence and procedure - Evidence - Character - Safety of conviction.

The Case

It was only in exceptional cases that the conduct of defence counsel could afford a basis for a successful appeal against conviction, but there were some circumstances in which the failure of counsel to discharge a duty which lay on counsel, such as the duty to raise the issue of good character, could lead to the conclusion that a conviction was unsafe and that there had been a miscarriage of justice. In the instant case, where identity had been in issue and there had been no evidence to directly corroborate or support the prosecution's identity evidence, the crucial question had been one of credibility between the prosecution and defendant's witnesses. That was the very issue on which a direction as to credibility and propensity based on good character might have been of considerable importance. Where the issue in dispute was fundamental to the question of the guilt or innocence of the accused, the good character direction was an important safeguard to the accused. Accordingly, the defendants' appeals to the Privy Council would be allowed, and the matter remitted to the Court of Appeal for consideration of whether a new trial should be ordered.

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