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R v Wilson

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R v Wilson [2008] EWCA Crim 1754 is a case concerning admissibility of evidence.

FactsEdit

Jamie Wilson was convicted of 7 counts of robbery and 1 count of unlawful wounding. During the period between 1/11/'06 and 4/11/'06, 7 female victims were robbed in Islington by a masked man, only his eyes and the top of his nose was visible. JW was found by police on the 7th of December wearing the same clothes and his lower face concealed by a scarf, he was stopped and searched, the police found on him a kitchen knife and a telephone. When his flat was search they found 3 of the complainant's properties there.

The defence attempted to argue that none of the complainants mentioned that their robber had a thick Scottish accent, which JW had.

The issue of this appeal is concerned with the admissibility of evidence from a certain Ms Alexis Young. Ms Young was responsible for monitoring crime in Islington, she conducted a search of police records of offences using 2 criteria "Robbery" and "mask" which showed up with 2 additional offence though not of the same type. She also looked for "Islington" and "lone white male 20-30" and "Knife" which came up with no result so she concluded that between the offence and 31st of May there are no similar offences committed.

The defence contested this testimony vehemently citing the fact that it was prejudicial and does nothing to prove the identity of the perpetrator, in the sense that there are other possible explanations for the absence of similar crimes; hence the evidence of Ms Young is irrelevant. The judge ruled the evidence admissible saying that it was up to the jury to decide whether they were able to draw the inference that the absence of similar crime means the police have caught the real perpetrator.

JudgmentEdit

The CoA thought that it was probative (the testimony of Ms Young) as to whether the accused was the perpetrator. Ironically the counsel for the appellant had also wanted to introduce evidence to the effect that similar crimes had continued to occur in the area after the arrest of JW, Silber J argued that it is for the same reason that the testimony of Ms Young was accepted.

The testimony was also held to be non prejudicial because the defence could have equally argued that such absence could have been a result of the death, arrest, move of the real perpetrator. There acceptance by the jury is a matter of competence on the part of the counsel for the defence.

The appeal against the conviction was dismissed, but the appeal against the imposition of the sentence was allowed and instead a shorter sentence was given.

CommentaryEdit

It is clear that his case is inconsistent with the earlier House of Lords decision of R v Blastland. As a parallel can be drawn between the lack of similar criminal statistics in Wilson to the fact that M also knew about the crime in Blastland; the possibility of the ways of acquisition of both pieces of evidence is limitless, they could have been obtained both innocently and guiltily, yet it was held in Blastland that due to the infinite possibilities such evidence should not be admissible.

The Court in Wilson also omitted to mention the fact that the defendent was in custody, which was the sole basis on which the evidence in question of the prosecution could stand.

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