Practice and Procedure

R v PAUL BOWELL (2003)

PUBLISHED December 9, 2003

Where a victim jumped from a moving car as the defendant refused to let her out and then was put back into the car, by the defendant to go to hospital, a single count of false imprisonment could be split to reflect false imprisonment before and after the injuries, given the fact the victim wanted an ambulance and the length of time it took to get to the hospital. The count as originally drafted was capable of covering events before and after the injuries. The jury's decision was not perverse.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against conviction for false imprisonment imposed on 25 July 2003 at Swindon Crown Court and renewed application for leave to appeal the sentence of 18 months' imprisonment. The defendant ('D') was acquitted of another count of false imprisonment (count two) and inflicting grievous bodily harm (count one). D and the victim ('V'), who lived together, had been to the pub and left at closing time. Within a short time of leaving the pub V jumped from the moving car being driven by D. V was lying in the road and a passer-by ('C') stopped to assist. V said she required an ambulance but D sent C away, C drove a short distance and then contacted the police. Before the police could arrive D put V into the car, her injuries being such that she could not get in on her own. The hospital was about a 30 minute drive away but they did not arrive until about two and a half hours later. V told doctors she had been hit by a car whilst walking and had called D to take her to hospital. As soon as D left her she told doctors to call the police. V told the police that after leaving the pub D refused to let her out of the car and threatened to hurt her, so she jumped out. V had agreed to get back in the car with D because she was badly injured but he was reluctant to take her to hospital and told her to tell doctors she had been knocked over whilst walking. As a result of the incident V was left a paraplegic. D denied the offences and stated they had taken so long to get to the hospital as he had stopped to buy petrol and stopped to comfort V. CCTV from the petrol station showed that D had not been there to buy petrol. At trial the jury enquired as to D's alcohol level and in the absence of the jury the judge raised concerns about count two and enquired if there was an allegation of false imprisonment after V jumped from the car. The Crown contended that V was falsely imprisoned whilst in the car going to hospital. She had only got into the car because D refused to let her call an ambulance and he then took two and a half hours to get there. The judge was of the opinion that if the jury convicted on count two he would not know on what basis they convicted which would affect the sentence. He suggested the count could be split. D opposed the amendment as it was prejudicial. The judge held it was not prejudicial and count two was amended accordingly. D appealed conviction on the grounds that: (i) the judge was wrong to permit the amendment and wrong to encourage the addition of count three; (ii) the facts relied on for count three did not amount to false imprisonment; and (iii) the jury's decision was perverse.HELD: (1) It was logical to start with the second ground of appeal first. If count three did not disclose the offence of false imprisonment then there would have been no point in amending the indictment. The ground was superficially attractive as there was no duty to act as a good Samaritan. D could have left V in the road without committing any further offence, however, he didn't. D lifted V into the car after C was sent away. V did agree to be contained in the vehicle to go to hospital at a reasonable speed. On the face of it, given the time in the car, it was false imprisonment. (2) Count two as originally drafted was capable of covering events before and after the injury. If at the start of the trial the Crown had applied to amend the indictment that could not have realistically been opposed. The judge's conclusion could not be faulted, the amendment was of considerable value to D as it showed he was not liable for her injuries and the false imprisonment before the injuries were sustained. (3) There was clear evidence that V was injured some two and a half hours before arriving at hospital. C had seen her lying in the road in an injured state and D had on two occasions attempted to give explanations for the delay. The evidence in relation to count three was plainly different to that on counts one and two. (4) It was to the judge's credit that he focused only on count three when sentencing and was not persuaded to give a higher sentence. The sentence could not be faulted.Appeal dismissed.