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Law of Criminal Evidence

Criminal Evidence
You are the solicitor for Prakash and Bill, who have been charged with assaulting Rob in a Wolverhampton park. Prakash and Bill were playing football near Rob and Claire, who were sitting on a bench. Prakash kicked the football and, by accident, the ball hit Claire full in the face. The prosecution case is that Prakash then punched Rob in the face a number of times when Rob complained about the ball hitting Claire, and that Bill also kicked Rob in the head. Both Prakash and Bill are charged with offences under s.20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
When they were arrested, both defendants told the police that they were not present at the scene of the crime. However, both Prakash and Bill later inform you that they do not have alibis and were there. Bill says that he and Prakash are in a ‘street gang’ and he was obliged to come to the defence of Prakash, who he believed had been attacked by Rob. Bill says that if he did not do so, the gang’s ‘code of honour’ would mean that he would be seriously injured or even killed for breaking the code. Thus, he has a possible defence of duress
When Prakash was arrested later he was searched and an orange-handled knife with a blade, which measured about 2½ inches, was found in his inside left jacket pocket. Prakash was charged with possessing a knife, contrary to the Criminal Justice Act 1988, s.139(1). Prakash told the constables who arrested him that he had a good reason for having the knife, namely for cutting lino, and so has a potential defence under s.139(4) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. He also denied knowing anything about the incident in the park
Nina, a witness to the park incident, described one of the attackers as wearing a red England 2014 World Cup football shirt, blue jeans and distinctive yellow trainers, but did not get a very good view of the person’s face. It was going dark, drizzling and the park was not well lit, although nearby streetlights provided some illumination. Nina estimated that she was about 50 metres away from the incident. She thought it was possible, although she was not sure, that she recognised the attacker as someone with whom she went to school.
Richard, another witness, watched the incident from about 200 metres away and saw a male kicking someone in the head. He provided a description of the male as about 6 feet tall, about 19-years-old, with blond hair, and dressed in blue jeans and a blue cardigan. Bill was later arrested after the police drove Richard around the local area, shortly after the incident. The police pointed out Bill to Richard and Richard then identified Bill as the man that he had seen hitting the seated man.
Bill has a low mental age and although the custody sergeant suspected that Bill might be mentally vulnerable she permitted PC Morris and PC Gomez to interview him on his own. Bill told officers that he ‘liked playing football and might have kicked something that wasn’t a ball, like a head, for example’ and laughed. He also made other damaging comments and was charged with the s.20 offence. Bill now says that he only confessed because he is a heroin addict and wanted to go home for a ‘fix’. He says he was prepared to say or do anything in order to gain his release
Acting on information received, PC Morris and PC Gomez later arrested Prakash at his home and interviewed and charged him with the s.20 offence. During the interview PC Morris read out Nina’s description and stated that, as Prakash was wearing a red England football shirt when arrested, that he believed that he was the man that Nina had seen attack Rob. Prakash made no comment. His solicitor stated that Prakash was remaining silent because Prakash felt unwell and because he [the solicitor] had not been allowed to see any prosecution witness statements before the interview. Prakash, like Bill, also maintained his silence at trial. Prakash’s solicitor asked for Prakash to be subject to an identification procedure at the police station but the police refused, as they stated this was not a case for which identification was relevant.
a) Explain how the legal and evidential burdens will apply to the prosecution of Prakash and Bill
for the offences under s.20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and s.139(1) of the
Criminal Justice Act 1988.
b) Explain how the legal and evidential burdens will apply to Bill’s potential defence of duress
AND Prakash’s potential defence under s.139(4) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
2. Advise Prakash and Bill on the admissibility of the identification evidence.
3. Advise Bill on the admissibility of what he said to police officers at the police station.
4. Advise Prakash on his decision to make no comment in his police station interview AND at trial.

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