Affirmation Of Law On A Second Re-Trial

R v Bell [2010] EWCA Crim 3

This was an appeal against conviction for murder following jury disagreements at two earlier trials and the dismissal of an application that the third trial should be stayed as an abuse of process.

Appeal dismissed. The jurisdiction which permits a second re-trial after two jury disagreements in circumstances like the present must be exercised with extreme caution. The broad public interest in the administration of criminal justice leads us to the clear view that a second re-trial should be confined to the very small number of cases in which the jury is being invited to address a crime of extreme gravity which has undoubtedly occurred (as here) and in which the evidence that the defendant committed the crime (again, as here), on any fair minded objective judgment remains very powerful.

Unlike the judge, who was making his decision in advance of the second re-trial, we have examined not only the basis of his decision (about which in our judgment there can be no criticism whatever) but also whether, in the result, the effect of his decision was to produce an unfair trial or, to use more familiar language, oppressive or unjust. We can see none. The second re-trial was, of course, different in some respects from the first re-trial, and indeed the original trial. The Crown's case was better focussed, and there was less unnecessary reliance on expert evidence. But the more efficient presentation of the critical evidence did not deprive the defence of any evidence which it may have sought to obtain from the expert witnesses, and as we have said, we can see no criticism whatever on the grounds of unfairness or oppression in the expert witnesses called to give important evidence making further investigations into matter of apparent concern and interest to the defence.


Did you know?

Of all the regions in England and Wales, London has the highest level of recorded crime at 124 offences per 1,000 population.