Flawed Facebook Identification
Chesterfield crime solicitor David Gittins recently defended a juvenile before Chesterfield Youth Court. His client was charged with the serious offence of robbery based on a Facebook identification.
Notwithstanding a positive identification of his client by the victim, David’s meticulous preparation of the case led to successful representations to the prosecution. These resulted in the Crown discontinued the case several weeks before the trial was due to start.
Continuity of Representation
David’s client had the advantage of having continuity of representation. David provided advice and assistance to the client at Chesterfield Police station. He then continued with this representation at court.
In brief the complainant told police that the client and another male had got out of a car, pushed and kicked him to the floor, and stole a packet of cigarettes. The complainant provided a description of those involved to the police. He then searched Facebook to see if he could recognise those involved. During this process he thought he recognised David’s client as one of the males involved.
Full Alibi Provided to Police
David attended the Police station and advised the client who denied the offence. He stated that he was not there. He went on to provide a full alibi. This account was provided to the Police in the form of a written statement including the names of several witnesses who could support the client’s account. One of the witnesses was a social worker. This was an attempt to ensure that the police conducted a proper investigation.
To David’s surprise, Instead of speaking to these witnesses the police focused time and money on conducting a Video Identification Procedure (VIPER). Perhaps unsurprisingly, his client was identified again by the same witness as having been involved in the offence.
As a result, he was charged with the offence of robbery on the basis of the Facebook Identification without the other witnesses being spoken to by the police. This was despite David’s representations to the contrary.
David kept conduct of the matter when the case reached Chesterfield Youth Court. He immediately set about to obtain the evidence to support the client’s alibi and undermine the identification evidence. David took statements from defence witnesses including social workers and family members, as well as contacting other agencies to prove where the his client was at specific times.
David also correctly identified that there were obvious differences between the description of the robber given by the complainant and David’s client.
Having gathered this alibi evidence and considered the quality of the prosecution evidence, David drafted a list of admissions for the trial. His intention was that the prosecution agree these prior to trial.
These included maps, distances between specific locations and photographs of the Identification procedures. These were agreed by the prosecution.
Weakness in the Facebook Identification
Once they had been agreed, David wrote a detailed letter to the Prosecution outlining all of the difficulties they had with their case , particularly in the light of the agreed admissions and the alibi witnesses. Upon further consideration of the case following those representations the Prosecution accepted David’s points, including the weaknesses in the Facebook identification. The cases was discontinued without the need for a trial.
This case demonstrates how a diligent and focused criminal law specialist can make a real difference to the direction of a case. Early preparation put pressure on the prosecution to review the case in our client’s favour. Although we must have been confident of winning the case at trial, David’s approach removed all risk from any court hearing.
Contact David Gittins
Should you wish to contact Chesterfield crime solicitor David Gittins to discuss a new or ongoing case please telephone him at our Chesterfield office 01246 283000 or email him here.