Tag Archives: robbery

Robbery in a dwelling trial at Lincoln Crown Court

robbery in a dwelling
Nottingham solicitor advocate Lauren Fisher

Nottingham solicitor advocate Lauren Fisher recently represented a client before Lincoln Crown Court.  He was jointly charged with another with a single allegation of robbery in a dwelling.  Two other defendants were involved in the trial. One defendant had already pleaded guilty to his involvement in two robberies, and our client was jointly charged with one of those robberies.

This was in effect a re-trial, an earlier trial having been abandoned due to the prolonged bad weather.

Robbery in a dwelling house

robbery in a dwelling
Lincoln Crown Court

The charge that affected Lauren’s client was one of robbery in a dwelling.  The prosecution case was that he, along with the co-accused, had attended the house of the victim.  A taser had been produced.  Demands were then made that a large sum of money be transferred using internet banking.  In the event only half the amount was transferred, but the victim was forced to contact the bank by telephone to authorise the transfer.

Afterwards, it was said that our client and the co-accused left the property together.

Lauren’s client accepted that he had been present at the incident.  He had given his friend, the co-accused, a lift to the address and gone in because his friend did not know how long he would be.  At not time had he seen a taser, or hear the noise of one being discharge.  He did not know that money was to be stolen.

Once in the property the co-accused locked the door.  Once he was locked in, our client was unable to leave.  He took no part in the robbery and was as frightened as the victim of the offence.

The issues for trial

The important issues in the case were:

  • did our client know about the other robbery on the indictment that also involved this victim?
  • had he seen the taser at the point of entry?
  • could the prosecution establish that our client had knowledge of what was to happen before we entered the address?
  • had he participated in the offence at all?

The case involved careful cross examination of a witness who had been subject to two frightening robberies, in particular the second incident that we were charged with.  It was not disputed that either robbery had taken place, just whether our client was involved in any way.

As it was a re-trial, part of the preparation involved listening to the earlier evidence recorded on the court DARTS system.  This would allow cross examination on any inconsistencies between the statements and that evidence, and any evidence given at this trial.

Careful cross examination by solicitor advocate

Through cross examination Lauren was able to confirm that it would not have been inevitable that her client would have seen the taser.  The victim was not sure at which point they had seen the taser.  He also changed his account as to whether our client had left the house or not.  He perhaps struggled, in the end, to point to anything that our client had done or challenge the suggestion that we were scared of what was going on.  There were inconsistencies in his evidence that could not be explained.

A persuasive closing speech

robbery in a dwellingLauren had to approach her closing speech carefully.  She did not suggest that the victim was lying. Instead, she highlighted that it was likely that the witness believed what he was saying, but was mistaken.  Although he had been a victim of a crime, the nature of the incident meant that he was easily confused about the detail.

The jury was directed towards the burden and standard of proof and how that related to all the evidence that had been heard.  Having heard all of the evidence and the speeches in the case, Lauren’s client was found not guilty.

This was fortunate for her client, as the starting point after trial for an offence of robbery in a dwelling house in circumstances such as these was thirteen years in prison.

Instruct VHS Fletchers in your Crown Court case

We use a combination of in-house solicitor advocates and barristers, as well as specialists from the independent bar, to ensure that you have the representation that you need for your Crown Court case.

We aim to provide continuity of representation with a litigator and advocate assigned to your case at an early stage.

You can read more here about why you might want to consider instructing us as your solicitor.

Follow this link to see how we prepare serious cases of sexual assault for trial at the Crown Court.

You can read some examples of cases successfully defended at trial by our solicitor advocates both here and here.

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Aggravated Burglary Trial Success

VHS Fletchers were recently instructed to act for two of three defendants appearing before Nottingham Crown Court facing trial for serious allegations of aggravated burglary,  knife-point robbery and kidnapping.   One of our clients also faced an additional serious charge of wounding with intent.

Nottingham Crown Court Trial

The nature of the charges was such that if convicted the defendants would have faced sentences of more than ten years in prison.  They were relieved to be found not guilty of all charges.

The case was prepared for trial by Serena Simpson and Siobhan McGuinness from the firm’s Chesterfield and Derby offices.   Although the case was at Nottingham, these offices were more local to our clients.  One of our clients was represented by one of our team of in-house solicitor advocates William Bennett.  Our second client was represented by experienced counsel Stuart Lody from a local specialist chambers.  William had to take the lead on the advocacy as his client was first on the Indictment.

Aggravated Burglary

The trial ran for eight days.

aggravated burglary trial success
Nottingham Crown Court

The central issue in the case became the credibility of three prosecution witnesses who were said to be either victims or witnesses to the offending.

Following well prepared and skillful cross examination William and Stuart established that a number of significant lies had been told by tose witnesses.

Cross-examination of Untruthful Witnesses

The cross-examination was based on a through understanding of the statements in the case as well as the material that the prosecution had chosen not to use.  This was made possible because comprehensive and detailed instructions on all aspects of our clients’ cases had been taken at an early stage to prepare for trial, followed by an active pursuit of relevant unused material.

The cross-examination was able to establish that not only were there significant inconsistencies between the accounts given by the eye witnesses but also that the accounts differed from earlier accounts given by the same witnesses.

The prosecution’s main witness in relation to the knife-point robbery was forced to admit that he had lied to the police and even more worryingly that he had lied on oath to the jury about who was present at the time of the alleged robbery.  This  lead the Judge  to direct the Jury to acquit two of the defendants in relation to that particular charge.

Prosecution Witness Revealed as Drug Dealer

In another interesting development one of the witnesses conceded that the main prosecution witness to the wounding allegation did indeed sell cannabis as had been maintained by our clients throughout, a fact that had been denied by the witness in question.

It was a trial that really emphasised the importance of trial by Jury and the robust testing of evidence during the trial process. Anyone who believes that prosecution witnesses always tell the truth would have had their eyes opened by this case.

There was an enormous amount of pressure on the defendants throughout the case, pressure that only lifted after the Jury returned its verdicts. The firm’s overall approach, however, assisted the defendant’s to withstand the pressure that comes with being accused of crimes that they had not committed.

Instruct VHS Fletchers

If you face allegations, whether aggravated burglary  or  a different charge, it will be important to you.  As a result it is important that you instruct solicitors who will ensure that your best case can be put before the court.  If you wish to discuss a case with William or Siobhan please contact them on 01332 546818.  Our Chesterfield office can be contacted on 01246 283000.  Specific or more detailed enquiries can be made here.

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 flawed facebook identificationpreparation 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 chesterfield police stationthe 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.

Early Preparation

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 facebook-thumbpoints, 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.