Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2006] All ER (D) 33 (Apr)
Court: Court of Appeal, Criminal Division

Sir Igor Judge P, Mackay and Gross JJ

Representation John Hunter (assigned by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the defendant.
  Nicholas Mather (instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service) for the Crown.
Judgment Dates: 4 April 2006


Criminal law - Trial - Judge - Duty of judge - Change of judge during jury's deliberations - Trial judge becoming ill - Second judge assuming conduct of case - Jury asking material question - Judge declining to answer question - Whether conviction unsafe.

The Case

It was well established that a judge should not normally be changed in the course of a trial and that there was no power, until the moment when the jury returned to give their verdict, to change a judge, although it would be permissible in the event of illness of death for another judge to take over taking the verdict. In the instant case, whilst there was no doubt that the judge had taken the right and obvious course in making a serious attempt to save the trial the fact that the jury had not been provided with an answer to a question put to the judge was a matter for concern, and in all the circumstances, had rendered the defendant's conviction for possession of Class A and B drugs with intent to supply unsafe.

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