Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED February 6, 2003

Appeal dismissed as there was no evidence to the unreliability of the confessions made to police.Appeal by defendant ('F') against conviction of murder on 17 April 1986. The victim ('C') was a neighbour of F. On the evening of the murder a witness recognised a youth who was either F or his brother outside C's house, the next morning C was found dead by strangulation in his sitting room. Two days later the witness met the same youth who told her to give the police a false description of the clothes he had been wearing. F was interviewed ten times by police and confessed to the murder in the last four interviews. No solicitor or independent person was present at these interviews except in the last one when a social worker was. F contended that: (i) the Crown failed to disclose at trial documents illustrating that the police were aware or suspected that F was borderline mentally defective and highly suggestible which highlighted the unreliability of the interview confessions; (ii) the Crown failed to disclose that some of F's special knowledge was common knowledge, indeed local knowledge; (iii) the interviews were conducted in an unfair, misleading and oppressive manner and should have been excluded under s.76 or s.78 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984; (iv) the judge undermined the expert witness' evidence on the vulnerability and suggestibility of F; (v) the judge failed to give a warning under s.77 PACE about the danger of convicting in reliance on F's confessions.HELD:(1)The evidence would not have added to F's case on whether the judge should have excluded the confessions or given a s.77 PACE warning. (2)Notwithstanding the knowledge that became local gossip F had further knowledge which he could not have known unless he had been present. (3) There was no basis on which the judge should have considered exclusion of the evidence under s.76 or s.78 PACE. There was no evidence that F was "mentally handicapped" so as to require an appropriate adult and he told the police that he did not want a solicitor. (4) The judge had said what he was entitled to in summing up the evidence. (5) It would have been wise for the judge to give a s.77 PACE warning but it would have had no effect on the outcome of the case.Appeal dismissed

[2003] EWCA Crim 178