This last week at Carlisle’s Rickergate Magistrates’ Court, our client had entered not guilty pleas to two allegations – one of driving while under the influence of cannabis and another that he drove with 16 times the legal limit for cocaine in his system.
However the case was thrown out by District Judge Gerald Chalk, ruling that Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers had failed to prepare the case properly and it would be unfair to continue the prosecution.
The most dramatic allegation he faced was that he drove whilst having 800mcg of the cocaine breakdown product benzoylecgonine in his blood-stream. The second charge – also denied – was that he had just over twice the legal limit of cannabis in his body.
“Slipped through the net”
In court, an initial report on the blood samples given by our client following his arrest had been prepared. But in all such cases defendants have the right to have a second, more detailed analysis carried out on the blood sample. This report usually represents the key piece of prosecution evidence. This was not produced.
Mr Travers for the prosecution, explaining that the defence request had slipped through the net within the CPS. The mistake was identified a week ago but given the workload currently faced by the forensic laboratory which is used by the CPS for such cases, it had not been possible to have the analysis requested by the defence carried out, added the prosecutor.
Senior solicitor of M.A.J Law, Mr Marcus Johnstone, advised the court that at least three communications to the CPS about the case, with some of those messages copied to court officials. It was also requested that a police officer who was involved in the case should attend the trial – yet that officer had not appeared at court.
He said it was not the prosecutor’s fault that there had been insufficient preparation for the trial, adding: “But it is becoming an increasingly common problem that the CPS are not providing evidence or disclosure of important documents which are needed.”
The judge agreed, saying: “The CPS has manifestly failed to do the preparatory work. I have to be fair to both sides and it would not be fair to continue.”
In view of the judge’s comment, the prosecution formally offered no evidence and invited the judge to dismiss the case.
Judge Chalk proceeded to formally dismiss the charges.
This is just another example of why evidence must be challenged. It highlights the increasing number of cases that the Crown Prosecution Service fail to provide simple and basic evidence within a timely manner, in order to prove a case against the accused. The Crown Prosecution Service are relying more and more on Guilty pleas being entered without such evidence being required and to be disclosed to those accused of motoring offences.