18th May 2011
The appellants (V and T) appealed against their convictions for murder. The sole eyewitness relied on by the Crown was the deceased's cousin (N), who asserted that V and T had been responsible for the deceased's fatal shooting. She also claimed that a cousin of hers (W) had been present at the shooting. The Crown intended to call W to give evidence but she travelled abroad and did not attend court during the trial. The officer investigating the incident (F) gave evidence at the trial that, roughly one month after the killing, N and W came to the police station, saw V and T there and pointed them out as having been involved in the shooting. V and T argued that the judge had failed to direct the jury adequately as to how they should approach F's evidence that W had identified them as having been involved in the murder; in the absence of an appropriate warning, there was a real danger that the jury would accept the hearsay evidence given by F of what W had said to him as true and rely on it as support for the account given by N. T, who had had the benefit of a good character direction, also argued that the judge had erred by failing to give the propensity limb of the direction.
The cumulative effect of the relevant passages in the judge's summing-up must have brought home to the jury that they could only rely on N's evidence to convict T and V. Further, although the judge had erred by failing to give the propensity limb of a good character direction in a murder case, the appellant's conviction was not unsafe.