The case sits within the domain of evidence as the procedural law in application and of course the substantive law remains criminal law. However, as to the defence of the three, this paper shall give advice within the law of evidence and highlight the evidential issues that should be brought forward in the defence of each of three accused persons. It should be appreciated that the evidential issues shall be substantially guided by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984. However, in nexus to this Act, the evidential issues shall also be guided by the wider body of law, the spirit and the letter of the law that often require of right to fear hearing inclusive of both procedural and substantive observation of the law in all. It should also be appreciated that the law should never be read and applied in isolation and cannot operate in a vacuum. The overriding objective in any legal process, and in this case, the trial of the accused should be the need to balance the dual and contrasting yet essential mandate of giving justice to either parties, the accused and the victims. This paper shall provide separate evidential advice to the three based on the fact that the law was applied selectively and discriminatively on the three.
John’s evidence is by and largely inadmissible. There are a litany of issues that should be raised by the defence to discredit the evidence adduced by the Detective Chief Inspector from John. This is because of the procedural flaws that occurred from the onset upon arrest. The provisions of the Act are clear as to the need to inform the arrested on their right to legal advice and representation and the requirement to remain silent or otherwise evidence gathered within that duration admitted at the trial. The Inspector made the flawed decision not to inform John of this legal right to representation electing instead to inform the other two accused. This not only amounts to procedural flaws, but boils down to discrimination, prejudice and a miscarriage of justice. The substantive consequence of this flaw is that John went ahead to interrogation without representation. In reading the provisions of the law in relation to illegally obtained evidence, it should be noted that two factors envisioned are presented in this case. One, the accused is ignorant of the law. In this regard the duty is conferred upon the interrogator to inform the accused of his rights.
In addition, the accused is tortured into submission. The level of torture though merely psychological exhausts the accused to the extent of admitting a crime he clearly had not committed. It is in this light that the defence should argue for the withdrawal of this evidence and advocate for the interrogation for fresh evidence from the accused in the presence of his solicitor. In addition to the flawed interrogation process, the Inspector went further to re-examine the accused in his spirited attempts to corroborate the earlier evidence and reconcile the same with the evidence from the other two. The defence for the accused should seek to dismiss the evidence to the extent that John’ finger prints were in the knife.
The defence should stress the fact that on the contrary, the accused finger prints were not on the knife and displace the assertion put forth by the Inspector. It can seek for the forensic determination of the finger prints on the knife. This would defeat the Inspector’s accusation and allow the accused a reprieve from this miscarriage of the law. Finally, the latest evidence adduced by John in the presence of his solicitor and recorded on tape implicating himself and the other three should be recanted and challenged by the accused on ground of fraudulent and false accusation. The Inspector deliberately misadvised the accused to cooperate and admit responsibility employing his knowledge as to the intelligence of the accused. The fact that the Act does not provide for admission of evidence on the second account without leave of the court should be raised to discount the evidence.
The defence should also raise matters of credibility of the accused given the double standards inferred from the first and second account of his admissions. In the long run reliance on the second evidence by the first accused can only be to the extent of provision of corroborative evidence. Corroborative evidence would be availed only in accounts of evidence of other accused, witnesses other than the Inspector and or corroborative material.
William’s defence is perhaps the shortest and most precise. It should be anchored on the fact he has an alibi. His confession was dully performed in observation of the provisions of the law. To this extent, evidence collected by the prosecution in his interrogation is admissible. However, the alibi provided by William as to his presence in Manchester during the occurrence of the murder needs to be corroborated to give it more weight. It should be noted, however, that the law places the burden of proof for criminal cases on the prosecution and not the accused. That William has provided an alibi is sufficient as a defence and that the burden now rests on the prosecution to prove otherwise. The defence should also press the fact that procedural evidence law requires the standard of proof by the prosecution to be that of beyond reasonable doubt. It is not incumbent upon William to prove that he was in Manchester. It is, however, upon the prosecution to prove that William was not only in Manchester but was rather at the scene of the murder.
William’s defence should also raise the issue of credibility of the first accused. This they should raise so as to displace his evidence that implicates William as an accused. The prosecution should be compelled by his defence to provide further probative evidence relating him to the crime. In conclusion as to the defence of William, he should seek to strengthen the evidential value of his alibi. The defence can easily satisfy this through incorporation of a number of factors. First, William needs to adduce evidence as to the nature and extent of activities he engaged in on the substantive date of the murder. He should bring forth witnesses who either were with him in Manchester or happened to know of his whereabouts. This line of evidential approach would strengthen his evidence substantially and defeat the implication rendered by the confession by first defendant, John.
George’s defence needs to be strongly designed and executed. This is because from the facts of the case, he stands closest to the murder. He was not only present at the scene, a fact he admitted, but it is also known that his fingerprints were discovered in the knife. It is also a fact that he is the one who revealed the sight of the knife. He should be made aware of the consequence of this course of actions on his part. George’s defence should be hinged on the evidential need to prove liability beyond reasonable doubt. In achieving this objective, George needs to stress the fact that his was merely presence at the scene. He should also seek to explain the discovery of his fingerprints on the knife and explain how he accessed all the information and why he was present at the scene of the murder. However, George can as well enjoy his right to silence and place the burden on the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
In addition, just like the second and first defendants, George needs to cast aspersions on the credibility of the first accused evidence that implicated him of the murder. He ought to raise issues of inconsistency to enable the trial judges reject the first accused’s second confession.
Other than the specific defences highlighted above relative to each defendants, the defence teams are also at liberty to take advantage of the fact that the prosecution relies on the evidence collected by one officer, the Detective Chief Inspector. The defence can assume a common approach to question the credibility and admissibility of the whole evidence as collected by the prosecution. This approach shall rely on a number of factors as demonstrated in the actions, demeanour and mentality of the Inspector which should all be used to discredit the prosecution in its entirety forcing either an acquittal or a recollection of evidence by the prosecution. First, the defence should raise the issue as to the selective and discriminative application of the law by the Inspector. He deliberately omits to inform the first defendant, John of his right to a solicitor during the interrogation. He also fails to allow the accused communicate with their families despite the provisions of the law which provide for the same. He also elects to treat the three accused persons differently to the disadvantage of the first defendant. His flawed application of the law should be brought forth to challenge the credibility of the evidence he adduces in his prosecutor presentation in the trial.
In addition, the prosecutor is dishonest and lacks integrity. This character which he displays to the disadvantage of the first defendant should be brought forth to discredit his presentation. First he takes advantage of the low intelligence level of the first defendant to the latter’s disadvantage. He blatantly disregards the provisions of procedural law, does not inform the latter of his right to legal representation during the interrogation, confuses and convinces the accused into confession and falsely implicates the accused through his assertion that the fingerprints found on the knife belonged to the latter despite the real findings. He also exhausts the accused through his rigorous interrogation which lasts for five hours. It is on record that the accused requested to be left to rest due to exhaustion. He, however, abused his office and makes the accused confess before release. This amounts to an illegal reception of evidence. The defence can rely on the laws on illegally obtained evidence. They could rely on Colorado case. It is imperative from the holding in precedents that illegally obtained evidence would on the first instance be inadmissible. The defence should demand for the prosecution to prove why his evidence should not only be classified as illegally obtained, but also convince the court on why his approach that blatantly disregards the law is justifiable and should be entertained by a court of competent jurisdiction.
In conclusion, the overriding objective of evidence law usually is not to obfuscate and frustrate the prosecution or defence of any party. Rather, the objective is that the law ought to be followed procedurally for the protection of the rights of both parties, the availability of order and stability and conferment of the rule of law. Any approach that defeats this noble approach should be opposed by any party including the courts. It should the contention of the defense that the nature of the prosecution’s approach amounts defeating and undermining the overriding objective. This should be reason sufficient and justifying the rejection of the evidence as presented by the prosecution. In addition, the defense needs to insist that other than proving the substantive law provisions and requirements, the prosecution needs to respect the procedural law in appreciation of the fact that substantive law cannot operate in a vacuum. The defense should pose a serious prayer that the case be thrown for its obvious frustration and undermining of the law of evidence. Otherwise, the defense should remind the court that a contrary opinion or ruling would set a precedent not only dangerous but detrimental to a jurisdiction that believes in the rule of law and the court as the custodian of justice.
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