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DNA – INDISPUTABLE EVIDENCE OF GUILT?

The Grant and Ogden line of authority considered.

In the mind of many prosecutors, the presence of a defendant’s DNA profile at the scene of a crime is indisputable evidence of their guilt. Indeed to many laypeople, TV shows such as “CSI” and “Silent Witness”, have elevated the significance of DNA evidence to a state of near-infallibility. However, the Court of Appeal has adopted a far more cautious approach in a line of authority where DNA evidence represented the only, or only significant, evidence against a defendant.

In R v Grant [2008] EWCA Crim 1890, the appellant (G) appealed against his conviction for armed robbery. The issue at trial was identification. The robber had been wearing a balaclava which was later found in an alleyway behind the attacked premises. Forensic analysis revealed a complete DNA profile which matched the DNA profile of G. The odds of the profile belonging to someone other than G were estimated at one in one billion. A minor incomplete profile of at least one other person was also found. It was not possible to say which DNA deposit was made first nor was it possible to say how or when the deposits were made. At the close of the prosecution’s case it was submitted that there was no case to answer and that the trial should be stopped. That application was rejected.

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  • Posted in: DNA

R v Ahmad; Field [2014] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 75

R v Ahmad; Field [2014] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 75

Now the dust has settled

  • Long awaited and much anticipated after R v Waya [2013] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 20 radically added to the principles applicable in POCA proceedings, the case of Ahmad; Field was something of a disappointment to some in terms of continuing the Waya theme of addressing the potential injustice which strict adherence to the POCA can produce.

 

  • Since before R v May [2009] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 28, R v Green [2009] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 32 and R v Jennings [2009] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 29, the well-known trio of House of Lords’ cases which represent the most senior courts’ first attempt to grapple with POCA, practitioners and first instance judges alike have struggled conceptually with the notion that property passing through the hands of multiple participants or which is jointly held in a criminal enterprise can generate a separate benefit for each of those participants in the full sum. This gives rise, in theory at least, to the State recovering the sum actually generated by a crime many times over. Practitioners with an interest in this area awaited with interest the case of Green expecting, many of us, that the obvious risk of injustice would permit their Lordships to read down the statute and create a situation where the benefit was apportioned between participants.

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