QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE NEWMAN
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF|
|DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS|
|STRATFORD YOUTH COURT|
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MR D COLEMAN (instructed by Hardings, 59A The Broadway, Stratford, London E15 4BQ) appeared on behalf of the Interested Party Nikita Harding.
MR R MENON (instructed by Dowse & Co, 23/25 Dalston Lane, London E8 3DF) appeared on behalf of the Interested Party Matthew Oshin.
The Respondent did not attend and was not represented.
Crown Copyright ©
Thursday, 26th July 2001
"A preliminary point has been raised on behalf of Nikita Harding by Mr Coleman with regard to the admissibility of the interview and admission said to be made, without the accompaniment of an appropriate adult.
The Court has been addressed on the requirement of the Lord Chief Justice's Practice Direction of the procedure for such challenges. That, at present, is confined to the Crown Court.
With regard to the admissibility of the interview conducted with Nikita it is accepted that he was 17 at the relevant time, had not been in a police station before and had been in police custody for some 24 hours before interview commenced. It is also accepted that he was offered the opportunity to be represented and to have the assistance of an appropriate adult.
The issue is focused on whether a 17 year old suspect should be provided with the assistance and protection of an appropriate adult as the police are under a duty to do so for a juvenile as defined in the Code.
We are in a era of equality of arms and an awareness that there must be a level playing field when the State is investigating criminal offences so that a suspect is able to deal with the investigation and questioning fairly.
After a period of some 24 hours in custody, the Court cannot be satisfied that Nikita was able to make a balanced judgment about the interview he was to undergo. The Court must view the European Convention, Article 6, as ensuring that suspects have a fair trial, including the preparation of the case against them, and that the jurisdiction of the Youth Court, up to age 18, should colour and affect the procedure of investigating authorities dealing with juveniles.
The Court is satisfied that there was a breach of the Code and that as a consequence of the particular judgments in Moor and Blake, an appropriate adult should be available to a juvenile, including a person over 17 but under 18 (unless the exceptions are present, which in this case they were not), and that by virtue of the decision in Walsh this breach of the Code is sufficiently serious to prevent the prosecution adducing the evidence from the interview.
I rule that either under S.76(2) or S.78 that the said interview evidence is inadmissible."
"If anyone appears to be under the age of 17 then he shall be treated as a juvenile for the purposes of this code in the absence of clear evidence to show that he is older."
MR JUSTICE NEWMAN: I agree with everything my Lord has said, and there is nothing I can usefully add.
LORD JUSTICE SEDLEY: Do we have any applications?
MR MENON: Mr Oshin has the benefit of a legal aid certificate in this case, so we apply for legal aid taxation.
LORD JUSTICE SEDLEY: You would like an assessment. You shall have that.
MR COLEMAN: I make a similar application for Mr Harding, my Lord.
LORD JUSTICE SEDLEY: Yes, you shall have an assessment too, Mr Coleman. I would add for my part that I think it is a great shame that this matter had to come up here. I do not think this error needed to enter the decision in the first place. But there it is.