West Law Report

UKPABI v DPP

Posted in standard of proof, Westlaw Reports by mrkooenglish on May 2, 2008

Last updated: 8:21 PM BST 30/04/2008
Divisional Court

Hooper LJ, Maddison J

April 18, 2008

Assault on constables – Standard of proof – Statements in open court – Impression that incorrect standard of proof applied

FACTS

The appellant (U) appealed by way of case stated against a decision of a magistrates’ court to convict him for two offences of assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty, contrary to the Police Act 1996 s. 89. Two police officers had been called to an address where the occupant said that she had been assaulted by U.

The officers found U and asked him to move, but he refused to do so. It was alleged that U then spat, swore and struck out at the officers before getting one of them in a headlock and punching him in the chest. U denied that he had sworn or thrown punches, but conceded that if he had moved when requested the situation would not have escalated.

The magistrates found U guilty of the offences charged. In giving reasons, the magistrates stated that a struggle had ensued and U had acted in such a way as to escalate the incident. They stated that they were not exactly sure what happened next, but that they tended to believe the officers’ evidence and account of events. The questions posed for the consideration of the court were whether the magistrates adopted the correct standard of proof, and whether the correct standard was adopted properly in their consideration of the case.

ISSUE

Whether the magistrates adopted the correct standard of proof, and whether the correct standard was adopted properly in their consideration of the case.

HELD (appeal allowed)

There was no reason to believe that the magistrates, in fact, applied the incorrect standard or burden of proof, but they did give the impression by their statements in open court that they had not applied the correct criminal standard of proof, Evans (Darren Michael) v DPP [2001] EWHC Admin 369, Times, July 9, 2001 applied, R (on the application of McCubbin) v DPP [2004] EWHC 2504 (Admin) distinguished. That conclusion could be reached on the basis of the magistrates’ words, “tended to believe the officers”, and on the basis that the magistrates said they were not sure what happened after U refused to move and were, therefore, saying that they were not sure what happened at the point at which the violence had allegedly occurred.

Nikolas Clarke (Pollecoff Solicitors) for the appellant. Patricia Lees (instructed by Director of Public Prosecutions) for the respondent.

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