The judge's decision under s.22 Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 to extend the claimant's custody time limits was correct. The words "before the expiry of a time limit imposed by the regulations" in s.22 should be interpreted so as to include a time limit still imposed by the regulations as extended by the court.Application for judicial review of the decision of HH Judge Dunn to extend the claimant's custody time limits. On 26 January 2003 the claimant ('H') was charged with the murder of his wife. On 27 January 2003 he was transferred in custody to the Central Criminal Court under s.51 Crime and Disorder Act 1998. He had been in custody ever since. The custody time limit under reg.5(6B) Prosecution of Offences (Custody Time Limits) Regulations 1987 SI 1987/299 and expired on 28 July 2003. The trial date was set for 1 September 2003. The Crown obtained a report from an expert who carried out DNA analysis of blood discovered on H's shoes. The report was served on H's solicitors around 29 April 2003. H changed solicitors and when his papers were transferred to his new solicitors the report was not included. Therefore his new solicitors were not aware of their need to obtain expert evidence themselves. A further report by the same expert was served on H's solicitors on 7 August 2003, two months after it was received by the Crown. This alerted H's solicitors to the need to obtain their own expert report, which would take 10 weeks. Accordingly H made an application to break the trial date fixture. That application was granted without opposition. The Crown subsequently applied for an extension of the custody time limits. H disputed that application, alleging that a lack of diligence on the part of the Crown caused H to break the fixture. The judge held that, although the Crown were in error in failing to serve the second report promptly, overall the case had been conducted with due diligence and expedition by the Crown so that s.22(3)(b) Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 was satisfied.HELD: (1) The judge's reasoning for rejecting H's submissions appeared to be that: (i) the root cause of the need to break the trial date fixture was the failure of H's first solicitors to get an expert report; and (ii) H's solicitors were in the same position as they would have been had they received the second report sooner, as they were unable to consult with H to take instructions for an expert report until August 13 in any event. (2) The relevant test of causation was what was the real, root or principal cause of the need to break the fixture (R (Rippe & Ors) v Chelmsford Crown Court (2001) EWHC Admin 1115). The judge's conclusion, that the root cause of the need to break the fixture was the failure of H's first solicitors to obtain a report in good time, was unimpeachable and right. (3) The words "before the expiry of a time limit imposed by the regulations" in s.22 of the 1985 Act should be interpreted so as to include a time limit imposed by the regulations as extended by the court. (4) Where, as in the instant case, the judge had reached the right decision for essentially the right reason it was not in the interests of justice to exercise the court's discretion to quash the order.Application refused.

[2003] EWHC 2457 (Admin)

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