View Full Version : Murder reviews with end of 'double jeopardy'



Mr T.
04-04-05, 02:18 AM
Murder reviews with end of 'double jeopardy'
By Joshua Rozenberg, Legal Editor
(Filed: 04/04/2005)

The 800-year-old "double jeopardy" rule, which prevented anyone being tried twice for the same crime, has been largely abolished for serious cases under changes taking effect in England and Wales today.

Where there is "new and compelling evidence" pointing to a former accused's guilt, the Court of Appeal will now be able to quash an acquittal and order a re-trial.

The changes will apply retrospectively, so that people who have been cleared of offences ranging from murder to drug dealing may now find themselves back in the dock if new DNA evidence, further witnesses or a reliable confession come to light.

Double jeopardy is thought to date back at least to the Magna Carta, and has been widely copied in legal systems around the world.

The Macpherson inquiry into the racist murder of the teenager Stephen Lawrence suggested that the defence should be abolished in cases where there was "fresh and viable" new evidence.

A report from the Law Commission in 2000 also recommended reversing the rule, though only in murder cases.

The National Crime Faculty has calculated that there are 35 murder cases in which defendants who were acquitted could now be re-investigated and new charges brought.

But the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken Macdonald, expects no more than "a handful" of these cases to be brought a year.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: "There has to be new evidence which was not available at the time of the original trial. Just because someone is reported to have confessed in a book or a newspaper interview it does not necessarily mean that there is evidence in a form we could use."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Government believes that it is important that the public should have full confidence in the ability of the criminal justice system to deliver justice and this can be undermined if it is not possible to convict offenders for very serious crimes where there is strong and viable evidence of their guilt."

The list of offences now excluded from the double jeopardy rule under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 includes 30 different crimes, such as those involving Class A drugs offences, war crimes and hijacking. The principle remains in force for lesser offences.

The Bar Council opposed the changes when they were before Parliament. Matthias Kelly, QC, then chairman of the Bar, said they could "lead to prosecutions routinely seeking a second bite of the cherry if a case flopped first time for good reason".

Civil liberties groups also condemned the reforms, fearing the law could be used to persecute people and lead to miscarriages of justice.

Campaigners said unpopular defendants could be endlessly prosecuted until the State secured a popular result. However, under the laws that come into force today it will be possible to retry an acquitted person only once.

On Friday it emerged that the police will re-examine the case of 22-year-old Julie Hogg, murdered in at her home in Billingham, Teesside, in November 1989.

Her boyfriend, Billy Dunlop, was tried for the murder of the pizza delivery girl but acquitted after the jury failed to reach a verdict on two separate occasions.

While serving a seven-year prison sentence for a serious assault on another woman, Dunlop allegedly confessed to a prison officer that he had killed Miss Hogg.

Cleveland Police charged him with two counts of perjury in connection with the false evidence he had given under oath at the two trials.

In 2000 he was jailed for six years, consecutive to the jail term he was already serving.

Defendants in the Lawrence and Damilola Taylor murder cases could be among those to now face a second trial if significant new evidence comes to light.

resting rifleman
04-04-05, 02:55 AM
voted no. If the cps dont get their act right the first time, the accused MAY be tempted to all sorts of mischief to avoid further prosecution, forearmed by the damaging stuff from the first trial! ffs most of the country would be on the witness protection list forever.:thumbsdow

AirHog
04-04-05, 06:48 AM
Also, what's now to stop prosecution attempt after prosecution attempt with the associated waste of (normally Taxpayers') money in the vain attempt to get a conviction on flimsy evidence.

If it doesn't work once, try a different judge/jury...might get a different result.

Regards

Mark

Gavin Smith
04-04-05, 08:10 AM
Also, what's now to stop prosecution attempt after prosecution attempt with the associated waste of (normally Taxpayers') money in the vain attempt to get a conviction on flimsy evidence.

If it doesn't work once, try a different judge/jury...might get a different result.

Regards

Mark

perhaps...


However, under the laws that come into force today it will be possible to retry an acquitted person only once

AirHog
04-04-05, 08:52 AM
Can see them getting round that one by changing the charge - murder fails, drop to attempted, drop to manslaughter...etc, etc.

Regards

Mark