Monday, June 19, 2006

CCTV Never Lies

I went off to the Crown Court today to oversee the smooth running of a trial that was due to start today. I say that I went to oversee the trial because I was not doing the trial, a barrister was, and personally I find clerking cases very boring as I would rather be on my feet doing the advocacy.

This case involved an allegation of robbery where is was alleged that my Client had gone to a convenience store and attempted to obtain goods by waving a knife around. This case had always puzzled me because it was clear CCTV existed from the start of the case, and as part of this incident my Client received a blow to their head requiring seven staples in their head to hold their skin together. This head injury was not mentioned in any of the prosecution statements other than by the Police when they booked the Client in to the custody suite after her arrest. I had taken instructions from my Client and prepared the case on the basis that it was going to be an effective trial today. My Client even confirmed as little as two weeks ago that she had not committed a crime when she came to my office.

When I got to Court I was finally able to watch the CCTV. Unfortunately the CCTV showed my Client committing a robbery with a knife, and as they left the shop one of the shop staff could be seen running after her and hitting her over the head with a golf club.

My work had been in vain and today my Client entered a guilty plea. My Client would have pleaded guilty earlier in the proceedings if the Crown Prosecution Service had served me with a copy of the CCTV earlier.

Clients have a funny habit of not telling the truth. Prosecution witnesses have a funny habit of sometimes missing out vital bits of evidence from their statements. CCTV never lies.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I sympathise and share your frustrations with, "clients have a funny habit of not telling the truth." You'd taken the time to take instructions, prepare the case and you expected a full trial then suddenly all your hard work has gone down the pan because your client had lied to you. You probably felt let down and deflated. WHY DO YOU SOUND SO SUPRISED?!! She's a criminal! Of course she's a liar. Of course she's dishonest. Try doind what I do for a living! Being a police officer I routinely deal with people like that. There's no point slating the CPS and prosecution witnesses when you accepted instructions from her in the first place. You're attitude is typical of someone who has forgotten about victims and justice. I'm probably going off on a tangent here but would you have been happier if you managed to "get her off" on a technicality rather than the conviction of the lying scum bag? Defence solicitors have a funny habit of forgetting what's right and wrong.

Gavin said...

I was not that surprised by the contents of the CCTV. I routinely expect evidence to unfold contrary to what my Client has told me. There is a phrase that many advocates say, "The prosecution case is at it's weakest when it is closed." This basically means that once the Prosecution have finished delivering their evidence it is usually downhill if your client is going to give evidence!

"You're attitude is typical of someone who has forgotten about victims and justice". Come on, let's not play games here. My job is to defend and defend to the best of my ability. Your job as a Police Officer is to arrest and investigate. The CPS are there to secure convictions. I do my job and you do your job. We are both components in the criminal justice system. My job is not to convict and if you were ever being prosecuted for an offence that you denied committing you would also want a committed solicitor defending you.

I know what is right and wrong. I generally have a very good idea when a Client is lying (because that is most of the time). Why do I do my job? Well there are actually some innocent people out there. There are equally some guilty people out there who I do sometimes have an opportunity to divert through sentencing to stop them continuing in a life of crime.

Anonymous said...

CCTV never lies but without sound it can be very subjective!!!

Gavin said...

Very true.

Barry O'Connell said...

Too right Gavin. Without the best defence possible there is the risk of terrible injustice. Of course the police have never lied, exaggerated or (heavens forbid) fabricated when it comes to evidence have they....

Balance, parliament, judiciary, police, defence.

Anonymous said...

To anon police officer:

Yet another example of the small mindedness displayed by those police officers who choose to see things in black and white. If you had your way i think you would do away with the criminal justice system and let you and your colleagues be judge and juror. Am i right? What a scary thought...

anna said...

Police sometimes take a rather competitive view of their relationship to defence counsels. Once I went to the police station to assist the interview of a client. Very strange story of client (no criminal record, esteemed businessman) allegedly forcing a well known con man with a record pages long, to go with him in a long car journey to cooperate in the recovery of some goods he'd admittedly tricked out of client.The police was taking the view the con man had been kidnapped,in spite a few very odd circumstances, like the con man having ininterruptedly been on cell-phone contact with police during the car journey. I pointed these out to the officer in charge,the whole story was fishy, how about making a nice careful investigation and no arrest.He laughed in my unhappy mug and the client was eventually put under arrest on a charge of kidnapping. Huge media hype, fed by the officer, out for a bit of reputation and possibly a recompense. The italian law is that within 48 hours of an arrest by police or prosecution there has to be a hearing in front of judge, when the arrest may be confirmed or not. This time the judge had a busy docket on the Monday so he called the hearing for Sunday afternoon, and the result was client had supper at home, after realeasing a very upbeat statement for the local TV news, duly broadcast as 8.00 pm breaking news. Monday, in the court house, whom do I come across, but that same police officer, who professes bewilderment but still, in a very sporting style, insists on shaking hands? I didn't know whether I was supposed to laugh or get mad at him. Client was eventually sent to trial and acquitted.

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