Woman Deprived of a Fair Hearing Through Conduct of Trial Judge – Convictions Overturned

The court ruled that His Honour Judge Stephen John had unfairly made comments during the woman’s trial which indicated his belief in her guilt. He had urged her counsel to give ‘robust advice’ about her plea and withdrew the woman’s bail and remanded her in custody the night before she was due to give evidence. He also threatened her 14-year-old daughter with custody if the teenager made any facial response to the testimony that was being given. This meant the woman doubted the fairness of the process and was thereby ‘handicapped’ in giving her evidence.
The woman was convicted at Kingston Crown Court in April of bringing cannabis, two mobile phones, two charging cables and a SIM card on a visit to her partner in prison. The handover had allegedly happened while she visited the prisoner with her teenage daughter. A search of the prisoner later revealed he had stashed these items on his person.  The woman, who was jailed for 18 months, admitted smuggling in the SIM card but denied being responsible for the other items. In the appeal, her lawyers argued the judge’s decision to hold her on remand overnight demonstrated a ‘hostile attitude’ and affected the quality of her evidence.
John Hyde, Law Gazette,

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