John Waller secured the unanimous acquittal of his client who had been charged with a serious aggravated burglary. Despite a very strong prosecution case John was able to persuade the jury that there was considerable doubt.
The prosecution alleged that the client was one of four men (some of whom had disguises) who used violence to force their way into the complainants home. The complainant was beaten and restrained while a search of the home took place. The prosecution alleged that the client had produced a knife and made a threat to kill the complainant and his 4 year old daughter. The complainant’s wife and his daughter were present while all of this took place.
The complainant said in his evidence that he recognised the client (who did not have a disguise) as he had met him a week before with a male called ‘Harry’. The complainant had been driven home in the clients Land Rover Discovery and had even let the client into his house. The complainant had made reference to the fact that he recognised the client in his 999 call made minutes after the four men left.
As a consequence the complainant spoke with ‘Harry’ to ascertain the client’s name which he then provided to police. As a consequence the client was arrested. He gave a full comment interview denying any involvement but giving a non-committal alibi. As a consequence the police decided to hold an ID procedure where he was positively identified by the complainant and his wife without any hesitation.
The Crown also relied on the fact that days before the aggravated burglary the client had been arrested in a dark Range Rover Discovery which matched the description given by the complainant. The client is also 6’10” tall and so is extremely distinctive – a feature that was not lost on the complainants who described him as a “dinosaur”.
However, in interview the police were keen to ask the client about his identical twin brother and his whereabouts. Evidence was heard at trial that the twin brother had gone to Canada in 2015 and had not returned. The only difference between the two of them is a distinctive mole on the clients left cheek. This was a feature which was referred to in the complainant’s wife evidence – although this was undermined in cross-examination as she had only mentioned this feature at trial.
At trial it was advanced by John that there was no dispute that an aggravated burglary had taken place but that both witnesses were mistaken that it was the client. Both the complainant and his wife were cross-examined on their mistaken belief that it was the client that they had seen and inferred that they had been influences by ‘Harry’. It was denied that client had ever met with the complainant. It was not the client’s defence that it could have been his twin brother.
In short, it was advanced that ‘Harry’ must have been a mutual friend of both the complainant and client but who now had an axe to grind against the client. As a consequence the complainant and his wife had either been influenced or pressured to say it was the client. The officer in the case was cross examined that he had failed to make the connection between ‘Harry’ and the male described by the client in his interview – therefore potential significant leads had been lost.
It would appear that the Jury accepted this explanation from their unanimous acquittal. If convicted the client would have received a significant sentence.
John was instructed by MMA Solicitors