Historic Sexual Offences

The difficulty of ensuring a fair trial in respect of allegations that are sometimes decades old is an obvious one. The courts have made it clear that it is important to understand the unique reasons why victims of sexual offences may not come forward initially. In that context, the courts have regularly found that a fair trial is possible because of the Judge’s ability to direct the jury and regulate the fairness of the proceedings [ R v F(S) [2011] 2.Cr.App.R. 28; R v S (SP) [2006] 2 Cr.App.R. 23; R v Smolinksi [2004] 2 Cr.App.R. 40].

That said,  each case has to be considered on its own facts, and there are still circumstances where the delay will render any trial unfair, particularly where a crucial piece of evidence has been lost (See for example Sheikh v The Crown [2006] EWCA Crim 2625)..

In addition to the particular difficulties presented by delay, allegations of a historic nature also often involve defendants who are physically infirm or whose mental deterioration is significant. The traditional method of dealing with defendants who are ‘unfit’ to be tried focuses on a defendant’s mental health difficulties (Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964)..

These cases often do not fall within that category but nevertheless present particular challenges. Notwithstanding the importance of proper medical assessments and the adjustments that can be made to the trial process, the boundary between a fair trial and an oppressive proceeding is sometimes approached. What to do with a defendant who is fit, but only for 30 minutes at a time, meaning any trial last weeks and weeks and weeks, or any cross examination of a complainant lasts days and days? Understandably given the serious nature of the allegations, the courts appear currently reluctant to interfere on the basis of physical infirmity alone (See for example R (on the application of Janner) v Westminster Magistrates Court [2015] EWHC 2578 ).

The advent of the use of video links into people’s homes may provide solutions to some of the problems with the recent amendments to the Criminal Justice Act now permitting defendants to give evidence in this way if in the interests of justice (Section 51 Criminal Justice Act 2003 as amended on 28th June 2022).

For more information please contact our clerks on 020 7404 1881 or via email to clerks@drystone.com. We will discuss your case with you and then arrange the right representation for your matter.

Historic Sexual Offences Barristers

Allison Summers KC

Call 2000     Silk 2020

Karim Khalil KC

Call 1984     Silk 2003

Stephen Spence

Call 1983

Christopher Wing

Call 1985

Nicholas Bleaney

Call 1988

Sean Minihan

Sean Minihan

Call 1988

Simon Kitchen

Call 1988

William Carter

Call 1989

Robert Bryan

Call 1992

Charles Myatt

Call 1993

Zarif Khan

Call 1996

Barnaby Shaw

Call 1996

Joanne Eley

Call 1997

Stephen Mather

Call 1997

Karen Walton

Call 1998

Benedict Peers

Call 1998

Azza Brown

Call 2001

Philip Farr

Call 2001

Lynne Shirley

Call 2002

Jo Morris

Call 2003

Claire Howell

Claire Howell

Call 2003

Unyime Davies

Unyime Davies

Call 2006

Helen Easterbrook

Call 2011

Richard Davies

Call 2013

Giles Fleming

Call 2016

Michael Cranmer-Brown

Michael Cranmer-Brown

Associate Member

Call 1986

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