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ST Albans Crown Court - Not guilty of s.18 GBH with intent 2023

James O’Donnell together with Counsel, Mimma Sabato successfully defended a man accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm on another. During a fight outside a pub in Letchworth, the Defendant was said to have glassed another to the face which resulted in life changing injuries and blindness. The Prosecution’s case relied heavily on CCTV and eyewitness testimony of those present who positively identified the defendant as the assailant.

However, rigorous cross-examination at trial exposed key inconsistencies between the witness statements and the prosecution’s case. Our defence discovered that the initial witness statements identified a man in a red shirt as the assailant, however at trial the witnesses changed their statements to confirm a man in a blue shirt had attacked the victim. The change in statement of this particular detail by several witnesses pointed to collaboration. Moreover, it was uncovered that the witnesses wrongly named the assailant in their statements. Most importantly, none of the witnesses were able to definitively confirm that they saw our client commit the offence.

Further to these fundamentally inconsistent witness statements, our defence exposed the lack of video evidence from the CCTV footage. The only CCTV at the scene was not facing the scene of the crime. On that basis there was no footage of where the event took place, who committed the attacked, or our client being involved. Therefore, our defence were able to conclude that not only was there was no evidence of our client being visibly aggressive in any way, but there was no physical or even verbal evidence of our client committing the glassing.

Our defence used these inconsistencies to submit to the court that part 2 of the Galbraith Test 1981 2 All ER should be used to withdraw the charges against our client. Part 2 of the test poses that when ‘the prosecution’s evidence, taken at its highest, is such that a jury properly directed could not properly convict upon it, it is his duty, upon a submission being made, to stop the case’. Therefore on the basis that the only evidence is unreliable or non-existent, it can be determined that there is no legal sufficiency on which to base a conviction.

Subsequently, we submitted that there was ‘no case to answer’ and that what the prosecution alleged did not align with the evidence. Ultimately, the Defendant was acquitted of both s.18 GBH and affray charges.

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