Successful defence of taxi driver facing sexual assault allegation
Nottingham solicitor advocate Andrew Wesley and Senior Crown Court litigator Lisa Sawyer were instructed in the defence of a taxi driver facing trial for a sexual assault before Nottingham Crown Court.
Careful preparation and dialogue with the prosecutor resolved the case in our client’s behaviour.
An allegation of sexual assault
Andrew’s client was in a serious position. Although the taxi driver was of good character, the CCTV in his cab was not working on the night of the incident. Further, there was his DNA on the chest of the complainant in the case.
The allegation had been made within minutes of the incident taking place. The complainant had phoned 999. She was clearly distressed during the call. She had repeated the allegation when officers came to her address, and made three separate written statements in support of the case.
The complainant maintained that during a taxi journey our client had continuously quizzed her about her tattoos and piercings. At the end of the journey he had pulled up her top and underwear and sexually assaulted her. She attended court for the trial fully willing to give evidence.
Free and independent police station advice
Our client had made the sensible choice of seeking legal advice prior to his police interview. Crime solicitor Jameel Malik was present in both sets of police interview to provide advice and assistance.
Jameel advised that his client answer the questions put to him by the police. He did so confirming:
- there had been no inappropriate questions
- the complainant had pulled up her own top
- she was drunk
- it was she who had then pulled him onto her chest
- she had given him her real mobile phone number
He was charged with the offence at the conclusion of the investigation. The case was allocated to the Crown Court for trial.
An investigation of the evidence
Our client would gain a benefit in proceedings if there was evidence in support of his case. At first glance the evidence against him would appear very strong.
As the case developed, however, and as additional material was served a very different picture began to emerge.
The DNA evidence had been presented by the police as being decisive in our client’s case. Further examination showed that, hidden in the detail, was confirmation that the evidence could also be explained by the account that our client had given in interview.
In interview, he had explained the nature of the conversation he had during the journey. It was innocuous, but the detail he gave meant that the answers could only have come from the complainant. This began to undermine the account she had given.
Helpful bodycam footage
Bodycam footage showed what the complainant was wearing. It showed that tattoos on her legs would not have been obvious. This undermined her suggestion that our client had immediately seen these tattoos and made comment. Further, the footage showed that he would not have been able to see tattoos on her chest. This was important as she had said that he had mentioned them and asked to see them.
Listening to the entirety of the bodycam footage revealed that the complainant agreed that she had searched her bag for money as described by our client. Although it was hard to hear, she also told police that it was she who had lifted her top to show her tattoo. This was exactly what our client had said in interview.
Key evidence stored in our client’s mobile phone
An insistence on an inspection of our client’s mobile phone also showed that he was telling the truth about how he came to have the complainant’s phone number. There was no evidence in the call list that she had given him a false number that he had tried to ring. Instead, the log showed that she had called him and he had saved her number in his phone using her name. Again, he had said this in his police interview.
This information was only revealed through a detailed examination of the unused material in the case as well as the exhibits. Transcripts of the 999 calls and bodycam footage were prepared to go before the jury.
No evidence offered so a not guilty verdict
Ultimately, when the problems and inconsistencies with the prosecution witness were set out to prosecuting counsel on the day of trial there was no real alternative but for the Crown to offer no evidence. There was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction once there was full consideration of all of the available material.
Crown Court legal aid to fund defence of taxi driver
Our contract with the government permits us to provide representation at the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts under the criminal legal aid scheme. The description of how we dealt with the preparation of this case no doubt shows you that even when, such as in this case, a client has the benefit of legal aid we still provide our usual high quality service.
Although those there will be a few cases where a client in not financially eligible for Crown Court legal aid, these will be few and far between.
Contact a lawyer expert in Crown Court defence
All of our office phone numbers are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide emergency advice and representation to those detained by the police. Please do not hesitate to call.
We can also be contacted using the form below.