Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 29, 2003

There had been no inconsistency where defendants had been convicted of violent disorder but acquitted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm as threats of violence made were distinct from the assault and the judge had directed the jury to reach separate verdicts. Hearsay evidence was wrongly admitted but it did not render the conviction unsafe.Appeal with leave of the single judge against convictions for violent disorder, contrary to s.2(1) Public Order Act 1986 imposed on 14 May 2002 at Croydon Crown Court. The defendants ('B' and 'C') were acquitted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and a co-defendant ('D') was convicted of both charges. On 11 January 2002 the two victims were at a bowling alley where they noticed B, C and D and their boyfriends who had all been drinking and were being very loud. The victims left but were confronted outside. C shouted abuse and asked if the victims wanted a fight. B joined in, shouting in the face of one of the victims. One of the victims was punched in the face and fell to the ground and D punched another of the victims. The police arrived and arrested the defendants. In a later interview C's mother, who acted as the appropriate adult, said that C was drunk. At trial both B and C denied being drunk or hitting the victims. On an application by the Crown the Recorder admitted C's mother's comment in evidence. In evidence D's boyfriend stated that D did not have a violent nature. None of the defendants were of good character. However, when summing up the Recorder mentioned the evidence of D's boyfriend and gave a good character direction. B and C appealed conviction on the ground that the conviction for count one, violent disorder, was inconsistent with the acquittal on count two, assault occasioning actual bodily harm. C further appealed on the grounds that: (i) the judge should not have allowed in evidence the remark of her mother, either as it was hearsay; and (ii) as the judge treated D as having good character he should have given a similar direction for her.HELD: (1) Violent disorder covered both the use and threat of unlawful violence. There was enough evidence to convict the defendants of violent disorder as threats made were distinct from the assault. The statutory definition required at least three persons threatening or using unlawful violence. It would be wrong to subject evidence to excessively minute examination, there were three girls together and the fact that a particular threat was uttered by one girl or a particular threat and gesture was made by another did not mean it could not be attributed to all three. There was no inconsistency in the verdicts as the verdicts in count one and two did not stand or fall together, the judge directed the jury to reach separate verdicts on each count. (2) The evidence of C's mother's comment was plainly hearsay. The only possible basis for it being admitted was to put before the jury the reaction of C to her mother making that comment, and it was extremely doubtful whether it should even be admitted for that purpose. However, admitting the evidence had not rendered the conviction unsafe as there was a great deal of evidence that C was heavily under the influence of drink and the introduction into evidence of the statement was immaterial. (3) C did not lead any evidence to suggest she was not violent, therefore it was not possible to give a direction in the same terms as that for D.Appeals dismissed.