Miscarriages of JusticeUK

“Unwinnable” Cases Can Be Won

The so called "Unwinnable cases" are won on the basis of sound trial preparation, a genuine proactive defence and incisive cross-examination on the live issue at trial. So many Crown Court defences fail at trial because these 3 golden rules are simply not observed for a whole raft of reasons.

It is critical for any trial advocate to get a focussed DCS (defence case statement) out at an early stage which seeks core secondary disclosure documents. DCS with bland denials and endless shopping lists of items are all too commonplace and rarely effective. A good DCS should be a weapon in the defence armoury that should immediately put the prosecution on the backfoot not one that has the CPS lawyer yawning and reaching for a cup of coffee.

A sound case strategy, knowledge of the best experts to instruct for the specific case facts, a clear understanding of crime scenes (via views), a detailed understanding of evidence, early case conferences with clients/experts to identify the weaknesses on both prosecution/defence sides are all essential for the advocate that is truly interested in securing an acquittal for the client.

Defences which are put together as reactive last minute affairs are rarely robust and never immune from effective prosecution cross-examination. The defence should be the party that truly sets the parameters in which the trial is fought not the other way around.

If these rules are truly adhered to experience shows again and again (that like the Sonnex case) the unwinnable case on paper becomes the winnable case at trial. Those who ignore them (for whatever reason) will inevitably reduce the probability of an acquittal.

(Joe Stone QC - Doughty Street Chambers)

Dano Sonnex Cleared a Second Time

Dano has been moved to HMP Long Lartin pending move to Close Supervision Centre (CSC) HMP Woodhill