Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED June 11, 2003

The Magistrates' Court had not erred in admitting evidence of the appellant's oral admission that he had been the driver of car at the time of an accident in circumstances where the level of alcohol in his blood exceeded the prescribed limit.Appeal by way of case stated against the decision of Carlisle Magistrates Court on 29 October 2002 to convict the appellant ('W') of driving a motor vehicle whilst the level of alcohol in his blood exceeded the prescribed limit. A motor vehicle was involved in an accident. The police attended the scene and, acting on information supplied to them, went to a property where they believed the driver resided. W was found at the address and, according to the police, made an oral admission that he had been the driver of the car. No contemporaneous note of the admission was made by the police and W did not have an opportunity to verify the note that was subsequently made as the police officer concerned was required to attend an urgent call. The level of alcohol in B's blood was found to exceed the prescribed limit. The Magistrates allowed evidence to be called of W's oral admission that he had been the driver of the car notwithstanding that at the hearing W denied that he made the admission. On the present appeal W argued that: (i) that failure of the police to make a contemporaneous note of the oral admission and the failure by them to give him an opportunity to verify their note of events was in breach of para 14 Code C to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984; (ii) it was Wednesbury unreasonable to allow evidence of the oral admission in those circumstances; and (iii) the court should have refused to allow the evidence on the basis that it would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that it ought not to be admitted within the meaning in s.78 of the Act.HELD: (1) The justices had been entitled to admit the evidence. (2) The present case was distinguishable from the authorities cited by W in that there had been every opportunity for W to put forward his version of events, there was no suggestion of bad faith and no possibility of error. Moreover, the police officers concerned would clearly have remembered if W had denied being the driver of the car. (3) In any event, the justices had been entitled to take into account the reason for the breaches of the Code, namely, that the police had had to respond to an urgent call. (4) In all those circumstances there was no Wednesbury unreasonableness and s.78 of the Act was not applicable.Appeal dismissed.