Identification evidence challenge leads to Robbery acquittal
Our client was jointly charged with another juvenile in relation to an allegation of knife point robbery. It was alleged that he had been with three others in the corridor of a block of flats and had threatened the victim with a knife and had demanded her bag. Our client was identified as the person with the knife during an identification procedure. Our client’s instructions were that he was not guilty of the charge and had not been involved in a robbery.
We wrote to the prosecution asking that they review their decision to prosecute as the evidence was contradictory and we argued the prospects of conviction low. We had requested the recording made of the victims 999 call which showed that the victim had stated on the phone to the police that she had seen 6 or 7 suspects but in a written statement said she had seen 4. She also said that the suspects had a gun or a knife but she didn’t know which. We argued that the victim was an unreliable witness and the prosecution should therefore stop. Unfortunately the prosecution did not agree.
We prepared carefully for trial. We went to the block where the offence was alleged to have taken place and took photographs. We made a plan of the location. We also spoke to residents at the block to find defence witnesses. This work proved very useful in the cross examination of the victim and in getting a proper sense of the location of the offence.
Given our client’s young age we obtained a psychological report to assess our client’s suitability to give evidence, what special measures would assist him in giving evidence and to assess whether he might need an intermediary to assist.
At trial the victim gave evidence and was cross-examined over two days. Her evidence was inconsistent and unreliable particularly in relation to the identification of our client. Following conclusion of the prosecution case we made an application to dismiss which was granted and our client was found not guilty.
Note: At the very start of this case there was a lot of hostility toward our client from the custody sergeant. Our client had been on bail for some time at the time of charge and had no previous convictions yet the custody sergeant decided to refuse our client bail at the police station. We requested a review of this decision as it was grossly disproportionate. The Chief Superintendent overturned the decision and granted our client bail who was allowed to return home the same evening he was charged. Our client remained on bail for the duration of his case. This case shows the importance of careful; preparation and of being at the police station or in touch with the police when a defendant is charged.