||All England Reporter
|| All ER (D) 34 (Sep)
|| EWHC 2266 (Admin)
||Queen's Bench Division (Divisional Court)
Lord Phillips CJ and Bean J
||Simon Davis for the defendants.
||Peter Cooper (instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service) for the prosecution.
||8 September 2006
Criminal law - Plea - Change of plea - Attempt to withdraw guilty plea - Circumstances under which guilty plea may be withdrawn - Whether practice in relation to guilty plea compatible with right to fair trial - European Convention on Human Rights, art 6.
Where a defendant made an unequivocal plea of guilty, which the court accepted, the defendant was thereupon 'proved guilty according to law' within the meaning of art6(2). The presumption of innocence ceased to apply and he could be sentenced on the basis that he had been proved guilty. A guilty plea could only found a 'conviction' and bring to an end the presumption of innocence where it was unequivocal. If it was equivocal, it had to be treated as a plea of 'not guilty'. If after a guilty plea had been made, it became apparent that the defendant did not appreciate the elements of the offence, then it was likely to be appropriate to allow withdrawal of the plea. That would also be so if it became apparent that the facts alleged by the prosecution did not add up to the offence charged.
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