Crown offers no evidence after failed hearsay application in s.18 case – Anna Bond

August 31, 2023

Anna Bond from Exchange Chambers represented the defendant who was charged with s.18 wounding and faced trial at Bolton Crown Court on 28 August 2023.

The complainant telephoned 999 on the evening of 20 February 2023, whispering to them that he was bleeding and needed urgent assistance due to being stabbed repeatedly. The assault was allegedly continuing whilst the call to police was ongoing with the complainant repeatedly screaming for his alleged attacker to put the knife down. Police attended and he was taken to hospital where he was treated for numerous lacerations to his head. He named his attacker as a neighbour of his and the defendant was arrested. He maintained throughout that he had acted at all times in lawful self defence.

The complainant gave a statement to police but later retracted, citing fear of giving evidence as his reasoning. Before trial, the Crown served an application to adduce hearsay evidence in order to prove their case, relying on the fear provision under s.116(2)(e) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

After a 2 day voir dire involving extensive and complex legal argument and live evidence from 2 police officers, the learned Judge at Bolton Crown Court refused the Crown’s application, forcing them to offer no evidence against the defendant who was immediately released from custody having spent 6 months on remand.

Anna Bond was instructed by Diane Conway of Howard Bernstein Solicitors.