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Evidence from multiple complainants was correctly deemed cross-admissible by trial judge

By: Hannah Godfrey BL

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Court of Appeal dismisses appeal against conviction for sexual offences against multiple complainants, on the grounds, inter alia, that: (a) the evidence of a multiplicity of complainants may be cross-admissible where there is an inherent improbability of several complainants fabricating similar allegations and there was a sufficient nexus between the allegations to render the evidence of each complainant cross-admissible, including that the appellant employed each of the complainants such that there was an aspect of economic control and dominion; (b) the trial judge considered the materiality of the missing witnesses and concluded properly that there was no risk of an unfair trial that could not be avoided by directions of the trial judge; and (c) the trial judge treated the issue of cross-corroboration with exceptional care and repeatedly cautioned the jury on issues of collusion and contamination.

Appeal against conviction for 11 counts of indecent assault and 7 counts of sexual assault - four separate complainants - offences took place between 1984 and 1993 - three of the complainants are siblings and fourth is childhood friend of two of the siblings - appellant is second cousin of the mother of the siblings - appellant was employed in fruit and vegetable distribution and complainants worked for him at various stages - whether trial judge erred in refusing the application to sever the indictment - whether trial judge erred in refusing an application for a direction - whether rial judge erred in failing to adequately emphasise the effects of delay on the evidence to be considered by the jury - whether trial judge erred in raising the issue of sample counts in her charge - whether trial judge erred in charging the jury that the system evidence relied on by the prosecution was capable of being corroborative of each complainant’s account - whether verdict returned by the jury in relation to one was repugnant to the evidence - whether trial judge erred in refusing an application to discharge the jury.

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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