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No strong grounds for arguing that trial in historic indecent assault case should be halted due to delay

By: Bakshi Mohit BL

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Court of appeal dismisses appeal against conviction for indecent assault in a school, on the grounds that: (a) there was no reason to conclude that the trial was rendered unfair or verdicts unsafe under the fourth ground; (b) the argument by the defence, to severe the trial in light of the fact that it was taking place at a considerable remove from the events, was without substance; and (c) a trial has to be a fair one for all involved, and there were no strong grounds for arguing that the trial should be halted due to delay.

Criminal Law – 79-year-old primary school teacher – guilty on eleven counts of indecent assault – sentenced to three years imprisonment – appeal against conviction aspect only in this judgment – appeal against sentence has been deferred to await delivery of this judgment – whether the trial judge erred in law and in fact in permitting the joint trial rather than severing the indictment on such application having been made – whether the trial judge ought to have granted a direction of “not guilty” on all counts on account of the exceptional delay and prejudice accruing thereby – whether the trial judge erred in not discharging the jury on the application of counsel when prejudicial material was elicited by counsel for the prosecution in circumstances where caution was demonstrably required – whether the court erred in law and in fact in failing to deal adequately or at all with the significant issues and logistical problems resulting from the very recently issued government advice regarding Covid-19 and in failing to make reasonable inquiries of the jury when requested to do so by counsel for the defence – there was no reason to conclude that the trial was rendered unfair or verdicts unsafe under the fourth ground – seven complainants made complaints of indecent assault against the appellant – all incidents occurred in the school and classroom where the appellant taught – argument by the defence, to severe the trial in light of the fact that it was taking place at a considerable remove from the events, was without substance – a trial has to a fair one for all involved – there were no strong grounds for arguing that the trial should be halted due to delay – cross-examination was irrelevant and did not and could not have caused any prejudice to the appellant – appeal dismissed.

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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