Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Law report - Wrongful acquittal by Magistrate

Miller v PS [2012] SC (Bda) 62 App (31 October 2012)

The Respondent had been acquitted by the Magistrate after a submission by his counsel that he could not be found guilty as he committed the offence whilst unlawfully detained.

The Appellant appealed on the grounds that this was not a lawful reason to acquit somebody.

Kawaley CJ considered Cumberbatch v Crown Prosecution Service [2009] EWHC 3353 (Admin), an English case where the appellant was acquitted on the basis that he was resisting police officers who were themselves acting unlawfully.

The present case was different, as the unlawful detention was not an essential element of PS's criminal acts [8].

The Magistrate should have allowed Crown Counsel to address him on the point [9].

Although the appeal would be allowed, the matter would not be remitted. The child should not have been in prison and these matters were at the low end of criminal liability. The no case to answer might have succeeded were it not for evidence that accidentally came out in cross examination. Re-connecting the child to the criminal justice system in all the circumstances would not serve his best interests or the wider public interest [11]

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