Where issues in a trial of offences relating to the making, possession and distribution of indecent pseudo-photographs of children were neither complex or lengthy, the judges' pre-trial ruling on a point of law could not have been made at a preparatory hearing under s.29 Criminal Procedure and Investigation Act 1996, and therefore there was no right of appeal against that ruling.Appeal by the Crown against a pre-trial ruling on a point of law by HH Judge Ansell on 24th May 2002. The respondents ('W'), ('P') and ('S') were due to be tried on indictment relating to the making, possession and distribution of indecent pseudo-photographs of children. At the pre-trial hearing the judge ruled that if W, P and S had honestly believed the young people in the photographs to be over 16 this would constitute a defence even if the jury found that they were under 16. The Crown appealed against that ruling.HELD: (1) The judge considered the hearing to have been a preparatory hearing but the issues were neither complex or lengthy enough for a preparatory hearing to have been ordered under s.29 Criminal Procedure and Investigation Act 1996. (2) The judge had been entitled to make a ruling on a point of law at a pre-trial hearing but it took effect under s.40 of the Act, not as a ruling made at a preparatory hearing under s.31(3) of the Act. Therefore there was no right of pre-trial appeal against the ruling.Order accordingly.

[2003] EWCA Crim 814

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