Practice and Procedure

R v BM (2003)

PUBLISHED October 17, 2003

Where in evidence, a defendant mentioned association with persons a jury had convicted in the previous trial, that jury could not be ascribed with obvious unfairness and prejudice so as to infer guilt by association.Appeal with leave of the single judge, against conviction at Bury St Edmunds Crown Court on 21 February 2003, before Mr Recorder Newton for wounding with intent. The defendant ('D') was sentenced on 21 March 2003 to three years' detention in a Young Offender's Institution. On 9 August 2002 D met the victim ('V') in a kebab shop. They knew each other and there was bad feeling between them and they began to fight. V suffered injuries to his lip and shoulder. It was the prosecution's case that D had attacked V with a bottle he had picked up and medical evidence confirmed the injuries were consistent with V having been attacked with a bottle. D denied inflicting the wounds. When giving evidence D denied having been drunk at the time of the offence. He said that he had been drinking with two friends ('S' and 'B') earlier on in the day but had stopped as he had been arrested later that afternoon and by the time he had been released he was sober. When summing up the Recorder referred to S and B. After the verdict, D discovered that nine of the eleven jurors had on the previous day, convicted S and B of a knife-point robbery which had happened a few days before the fight D was involved in. D appealed conviction on the ground that in those circumstances the jury might have been influenced by what they heard and were bound to regard D in a less favourable light. S and B had in their trial, said they had been drinking heavily and because D said he had been drinking before his offence the jury might have considered this as parallel behaviour. The Crown contended that it was unlikely the jury would be so prejudiced as to infer guilt by association. D himself, had admitted drinking and being voluntarily involved in violence.HELD: (1) This was an unusual case that had to be decided on impression. None of those who participated, or were present, who knew of S and B's trials said anything in D's trial. When S and B were mentioned the Recorder, who had been judge in their trials, said nothing. Counsel for the Crown had represented B and he did not notice or say anything. Solicitors representing D had also acted for S but they did not say anything either. All that indicated was that it was not at the time thought to be significant. (2) To ascribe to a jury any real or significant risk that the jury was influenced would be to ascribe to them obvious unfairness and prejudice and that should not be ascribed to them. In the circumstances there was no doubt the conviction was safe.Appeal dismissed.