Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED June 12, 2003

Where the prosecution accepted a plea to careless driving and following advice by the judge to reconsider, revoked that decision and proceeded with a charge of causing death by dangerous driving, there had been no abuse of process and what had happened was in accordance with the Farquarhson guidelines. R v Bloomfield (1997) distinguished.Appeal with leave of the single judge, against conviction at Preston Crown Court on 21 November 2002 for causing death by dangerous driving. On 7 May 2002 the defendant ('M') pleaded guilty to doing an act tending and intending to pervert the course of public justice. The matter was adjourned until the trial for causing death by dangerous driving. It was listed for trial on 14 August 2002 before HH Judge Slinger and on that day the prosecution accepted a plea to careless driving. The judge accepted that he could not overrule the prosecution's decision but referred the matter back suggesting someone senior in the CPS should reconsider whether to accept a plea to careless driving. By the afternoon of the same day, the prosecution took the view that they should proceed with causing death by dangerous driving. The matter was adjourned to enable M to make an application for a stay for abuse of process. On 15 August 2002 HH Judge Proctor refused the application and on 21 November 2002 M was convicted, sentenced to a total of 18 months imprisonment and disqualified from driving for two years. The victim was run over and killed on a pelican crossing, M was driving and his mother was a passenger. An attempt was made to suggest the mother was driving. M appealed conviction and placed reliance on R v Bloomfield (1997) 1 CAR 135, on the ground that the trial should have been stayed as an abuse of process. The prosecution should not have been allowed to revoke its previous decision to accept the plea, it had described in great detail, to the judge, the difficulties faced in bringing a prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving and the fact it could not satisfy the evidential requirements. The prosecution contended that it was a matter for the judge's discretion which, he properly exercised. The present case was very different from R v Bloomfield (supra) as in this case M was aware at the outset that the judge was not happy with the prosecution's decision. The fact the judge expressed dissent further distinguished the case. If M's submissions were correct it could leave no scope for the principles in the Farquarhson guidelines which, stated, inter alia, that if the prosecution did not invite the judge's approval of a decision it was open to the judge to ask them to reconsider.HELD: (1) What occurred was precisely in accordance with the principle in Farquarhson. It was not a case where M's hopes were raised later to be dashed. He knew from the beginning the judge did not approve of the course the prosecution were going to take. (2) Whilst it was true the prosecution indicated to the court what its view was, that was only one factor to consider. Other factors to consider included: (a) what view was expressed by the judge; (b) the period of time over which the prosecution considered the matter before changing its mind; (c) whether M's hopes were inappropriately raised; and (d) whether, by reason of the change, any prejudice had been caused to M. (3) It was clear the judge was right to refuse the application for a stay and he had not fallen into error.Appeal dismissed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 1881