||All England Reporter
|| All ER (D) 43 (Sep)
||Court of Appeal, Criminal Division
Scott baker LJ, Leveson and Davis JJ
||Christopher Donnellan (assigned by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the first defendant.
||Lynn Tayton (assigned by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the second defendant.
||William Coker QC (instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service) for the Crown.
||11 September 2006
Criminal law - Trial - Fitness to plead - Defendant being charged with cruelty to children - Defendant suffering from mild mental retardation - Medical evidence showing that defendant would have difficulty following the trial and understanding evidence - Judge ruling that defendant fit to plead - Whether judge in error.
A judge's ruling that a mildly mentally retarded defendant was fit to plead to charges of cruelty to children had been entirely correct, despite medical evidence that the defendant would have difficulty following the trial and understanding the evidence. Although the judge's decision on a defendant's fitness to plead was informed by medical evidence, the decision was that of the judge, not that of the doctors. The relevant test was whether there was material on which the judge could have legitimately reached the conclusion that he did with regard to a defendant's fitness to plead. The judge was obliged to keep his ruling on fitness to plead under review in the course of the trial, in case anything transpired that called the ruling into question.
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