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Murder conviction was safe in light of careful rulings by trial judge on circumstantial evidence

By: Mark Tottenham BL

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Court of Appeal dismisses appeal from the Central Criminal Court, and affirms conviction of murder, on numerous grounds, including: (a) the trial judge had carefully and conscientiously addressed each challenge to the admissibility of evidence and had exercised her discretion in a careful and restrained manner; (b) the trial judge had not erred in refusing to permit the accused to 're-cross-examine' a witness where notes had been presented during re-examination arising from an issue raised in the original cross-examination; (c) search warrants of the accused's home had been validly issued even if the District Court had not been informed of certain past issues; and (d) the trial judge had been correct to allow the matter to proceed to a jury determination, where the circumstantial evidence was such that the multiple strands taken together were sufficient to ground the possibility of a murder conviction.

Birmingham P (judgment of the court): Criminal law - conviction of murder - lengthy trial - numerous voirs dires - circumstantial evidence - majority of 10:2 - six days deliberation - 52 grounds of appeal - background to case - relationship between accused and neighbour - relationship between neighbour and deceased - disappearance of deceased in June 2011 - body found in slurry tank in 2013 - death caused by blunt force trauma - evidence of internet search by accused - interviews of accused - discretion on part of trial judge as to whether to admit evidence - balancing exercise - whether interview of central witness should have been recorded - report made by accused to Tusla concerning neighbour's children - requests for specific rulings - evidence of hostility to deceased on part of accused - evidence of forensic scientist - forensic entomology - evidence concerning decomposition of body - evidence of engineer concerning revisions to report - attempt by accused to raise matters in 're-cross-examination' - search warrants - Section 10 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997 - whether warrant was lawful - interviews - individual witnesses - computers and audio - evidence of pathologist - opinions based on report by another pathologist - applications for discharge of jury - application for direction of not guilty - judge's charge - circumstantial evidence - misconduct evidence.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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