David Toal secures acquittal in first socially distanced jury trial in the North of England

June 3, 2020

David Toal from Exchange Chambers has secured an acquittal for his client in the first socially distanced jury trial in the North of England.

In the trial at Manchester Crown Court, David Toal’s client was charged with rape and other serious sexual offences. The defendant had attended a music gig with his former partner and they stayed overnight in a hotel.  After they got into bed, she alleged that he had made sexual advances which she tried to resist before he then forced himself upon her. He took her home the following morning whereupon she made an almost immediate complaint about what he had done in messages to him and also to friends of hers. The police were then contacted. The defendant was arrested the following day. He denied the allegations saying they were involved in consensual sexual activity at the hotel when she suddenly indicated she wished it to stop so he did so. The jury found him not guilty of all charges.

Commenting on the practicalities of socially distanced jury trials, David Toal said:

“The building and measures adopted to provide for safety and social distancing had been approved following consultations at the highest level including the Lord Chancellor’s Department, the Health & Safety Executive and Public Health for England.

“It actually took three separate courtrooms to allow for this trial to happen – one for the judge, jury and counsel, a second for press and public and a third for jury deliberations. Jurors were spread throughout the courtroom and counsel’s speeches were delivered from the witness box.  All in all, the trial worked well.”

David Toal was instructed by Louise Straw of Burton Copeland.