Judge blames collapse of drug trial on CPS ‘cost cutting’
A trial of four alleged drug dealers and money launderers was abandoned after a judge ruled that the CPS had shown “completely unacceptable” behaviour.
HHJ Peter Murphy stated that cost cutting measures had threatened to deprive the Defendants of a fair trial and also accused the CPS of failing the rules and directions of the court through “wilful, calculated and prolonged disobedience”.
Why Would the CPS not Disclose the Evidence as Ordered?
The CPS is believed to have acted in that manner due to the costs incurred in photocopying thousands of extra pages of evidence and then the Legal Aid bill incurred by the Defence Lawyers then reviewing that evidence.
HHJ Murphy further stated that the criticism was not directed at the Police or Counsel’s conduct in the case but that it raised “serious issues about the practice of the CPS where complex evidence is involved” and ordered that a transcript of his ruling be passed to HHJ Peter Marron, the Court’s resident Judge to send to the “higher sources of the CPS”.
Why the Non Disclosure of Mobile Phone Evidence Resulted in the Case Being Dropped
The Defendant’s had been charged with the conspiracy to supply class A drugs and then with laundering the proceeds, however, a month before the trial was due to commence, the Prosecution revealed that it had new mobile phone evidence which was ordered to be disclosed to the Defence.
When the trial began, the evidence had not been disclosed and, therefore the Judge ruled it to be inadmissible.
HHJ Murphy said: “What is disturbing about this is that I was told very candidly that the application by the Crown was being made primarily on financial grounds.” and he further understood that, he believed that it was not disclosed due to the financial implications of serving a large amount of documentary evidence on the Defence as they would then need to be reviewed by Defence Counsel and that “Why the CPS should concern itself with considerations of that kind was not explained.”
HHJ Murphy further added that the decisions made by the CPS seemed to “fly in the face” of the accepted rules of disclosure as an offer by them to disclose only selected parts of the evidence that it intended to use was described by the Judge as “completely unacceptable”.
Judge Murphy ruled that he will not “permit the prosecution to adduce evidence in circumstances in which there has clearly been wilful, calculated and prolonged disobedience not only to the rules but also the specific directions given by this court.”
That ruling resulted in the CPS dropping the charges and the trial collapsing.
Source: London Evening Standard
21st January 2014
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