Client acquitted of murder
Greg Powell recently had another client acquitted of murder at the Old Bailey. Greg said ‘its always nerve-wracking waiting for a verdict which will completely change the clients’ life, especially when a case has been complicated by cut throat defending and issues of joint enterprise. However, there is also great satisfaction when a not guilty verdict is returned which is not only justified by the evidence but also reflects an enormous amount of hard work.”
Getting a good outcome out of difficult circumstances
Getting the best outcome requires attention to detail and putting in the effort to be in a position where the court can be supplied with good quality information which assists them in reaching a different and better conclusion. In this case, a youth aged 17 became embroiled in a dispute with a neighbour who tried to hit him with a dog chain. Rashly, he ran indoors and returned with a kitchen knife to try and show that he would not be bullied or threatened.
Wisely, he then abandoned that course of action and returned home, pursued by the two adults who smashed his family homes’ kitchen window. Inevitably, the Police arrived and he explained what he had done and was charged with possession of an offensive weapon and threatening behaviour. We wrote a long letter to the CPS explaining the context and providing excellent assessment of our clients’ general character and progress in his apprenticeship.
The Crown responded by changing the charge to a single matter of possessing a bladed article to which he entered a guilty plea in the Youth Court and received a four month referral order. Sometimes the hard work of a Solicitor prevents a disastrous outcome and allows the Court to reach a reasoned result because it has a much fuller picture of the person before it and the circumstances in which something happened.
A victim of excessive Police force clears his name
We have long recognised that anyone can find themselves caught up in the criminal justice system. One of our clients was recently prosecuted for obstructing a police officer and charged to stand trial along with other men facing more serious offences, following an incident of public disorder in North London. He was a married, working, responsible man of previous good character. He could not believe he had been arrested when he had tried to calm people down after a minor incident outside a bar was unnecessarily escalated by excessive police force. Occurring months after the Tottenham riots this was perhaps an example of the police demonstrating a new, no holds barred approach.
After being arrested for the first time in his life he spent many hours in a police cell before seeking help from Mark Troman in our crime team. Mark represented him throughout his court proceedings and appeared on his behalf during a four-day trial in which 10 police officers were challenged as to the truth of their statements. His brave decision to contest the charge and demand justice was vindicated when he was found not guilty by the District Judge.
Bus driver acquitted of driving without due care and attention thereby causing an accident
Our client, a bus driver lost control of the bus he was driving and crashed into a bus shelter. After the accident, his licence was revoked and his employer terminated his contract. He underwent medical tests which revealed that he had a previously undiagnosed condition. In court he pleaded not guilty on the basis that he had momentarily suffered a loss of consciousness whilst he was driving.
His consultant physician testified that his loss of consciousness could have been caused by his medical condition. The court found him not guilty of driving without due care and attention. Fortunately the condition was cured after treatment. When his employment contract was terminated he appealed through his union Unite. They helped him negotiate an undertaking from his employer to re-employ him once he got his licence back.
Woman given suspended sentence for £24000 benefit fraud
Sometimes we have very difficult cases where there is undoubted wrongdoing, but the personal circumstances of the defendant mean the court as to find a way of balancing punishment with mercy.
Man acquitted of causing death by careless driving
Our client faced a charge of causing death by careless driving and we are delighted that he was acquitted by a Jury at the Inner London Crown Court last week. The facts are that he was driving in South London with traffic lights in his favour when a pedestrian crossed the junction against the lights and was fatally injured in the ensuing collision. The Prosecution argued that our client should have entered the junction at a speed substantially less than his estimated speed of 27mph. The Jury did not accept that our client had fallen below the standard of the reasonable driver. Tragic and fatal accidents do not automatically mean a driver involved in such an event is criminally culpable.
Do the Police misbehave?
If the overriding objective of the criminal justice process is the conviction of the guilty and the acquittal of the innocent. It also exposes police misconduct. The vast majority of criminal cases are dealt with in the Magistrates’ Courts and are therefore, matters which are in the public eye or receive great publicity. However, there is a huge community interest in holding Police Officers to account. We highlight just one of many cases we conduct. At the Ealing Magistrates Court on the 14th February 2012, a District Judge heard the evidence in a trial of our two clients, one of whom had sustained injuries in an incident with Police Officers. Both our clients were found not guilty. The Police Offers were both disbelieved and had acted outside the execution of their duty.
In the Magistrates’ Court
Patricia Gaskin successfully represented a driver who was accused of failing to stop after an accident and driving without due care – Not Guilty.
In another of Patricia Gaskin’s successful cases, she represented a driver whose identity had been adopted by another man and who was therefore falsely accused of driving a hire car without insurance. We proved our client’s alibi and he was found not guilty.
Greg Powell represented a driver who was involved in a serious accident in Regent Street. He was found not guilty of driving without due care and attention.
Public Order Offence
Greg Powell’s client, who was accused of racially abusing a man in a dispute over a cinema seat, was found not guilty at the Highbury Corner Magistrates Court of causing harassment, alarm or distress. Unfortunately, our client has learning and mental health difficulties. We tried to persuade the CPS not to continue with the prosecution, but they refused to drop the matter. On acquittal, the Court made it clear that in their view it was an incident which should have never had entered the criminal justice system.
Youth Accused of attacking a Police Officer
Police officers (who were white) alleged that our client, a young man of 17 of good character (who was not white), had attacked them when they attended a party. We interviewed a number of witnesses who all confirmed our clients account that he had been attacked by Police Officers for no reason. After those officers had given evidence, the Magistrates decided that they were so lacking in credibility they could not be believed and our client was acquitted. We are now taking out an action against the police case for assaulting our client.
Sentence for Public Protection
The imposition of the sentence known as an Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) is a difficult and emotive issue. Our client was found guilty of stabbing another man during a street fight and received an IPP. We took his case to appeal and successfully argued that the sentence was inappropriate in the light of his previous criminal record and the court of appeal substituted an ordinary fixed term of nine years in prison.
Wrongly accused of Identity Theft
Extraordinarily, our client’s boyfriend, when arrested driving her car without permission, gave the personal identity details of his brother and when asked by police to obtain confirmation that he had permission to drive her car called another woman who promptly pretended to be his fiancé. As a result, both our client and the offender’s brother were summons to court, she for permitting her vehicle to be used without insurance and he, for driving without insurance.
Both were furious and instructed us privately. We are pleased to say that in due course, but after a trial in which the Police officers claimed to recognise the brother as the driver they had stopped, our clients were in fact believed by the Magistrates and acquitted.
Accused of falsifying computer records to defraud employers
Our client was charged with conspiracy to defraud her employer, a government agency, by falsifying computer records with other members of staff and arranging for money to be paid into private bank accounts. We obtained expert computer evidence to cast doubt on the prosecution’s contention that their security system was full-proof and our client was found not guilty.