The Court of Appeal has ruled that a man’s conviction for burglary, aggravated burglary and GBH is safe even though the Crown breached its disclosure obligations.
Lord Justice Lloyd Jones, Mr Justice Hickinbottom and Mr Justice Fraser had been asked to consider whether the failure to disclose information received by the police from two confidential sources gave rise to a ‘real possibility’ that Jason Garland’s conviction was unsafe.
The case was referred to the court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
The Court of Appeal’s judgment states that Garland was convicted at the Crown court in St Albans in December 2007 of burglary, aggravated burglary and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Kay Driver, counsel for Garland, submitted that, had the material in question been before the jury, it might reasonably have led to an acquittal. She said the failure to disclose the material made the trial unfair.
The judgment, The Queen v Jason Garland, states that Duncan Penny QC, for the Crown, ‘accepts that the material which has now been disclosed should have been disclosed to the defence at the time of the appellant’s trial’. However the appeal judges accepted a denial that the material was withheld in bad faith.
Even though Lloyd Jones and Hickinbottom considered that the material should have been disclosed, ‘we are unable to see that there is any basis for this allegation of bad faith’, Lloyd Jones stated.
‘Notwithstanding the non-disclosure of this material, in breach of the obligation on the Crown to make proper disclosure, we have no doubt as to the safety of this conviction,’ he added. ‘The case against [Garland] was not weak as is now suggested on his behalf. On the contrary his conviction was founded on a substantial body of evidence.’
Lloyd Jones and Hickinbottom recorded their appreciation of the CCRC’s ‘careful work… in preparing and making this reference’.
A CPS spokesperson said: ‘The Crown Prosecution Service takes our disclosure responsibilities seriously. We accept the ruling of the court that the original decision not to make disclosure in this case was incorrect, and this material did not make the conviction unsafe.
‘There was no suggestion of deliberate non-disclosure in the sense of bad faith or improper concealment. The conviction was based on strong circumstantial evidence, the evidence of the convicted accomplice and evidence of bad character.’