QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS||(APPLICANT)|
|SIMON NICHOLAS BAYLIFF||(RESPONDENT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MISS LISA JUDGE (instructed by Freemans & Co Solicitors, Manchester, M1 6JX) appeared on behalf of the RESPONDENT
Crown Copyright ©
"(a) A Seat Toledo registered number T544 EVV was, on 21st June 2001, seen by two police officers in a marked police car being driven on the M40 motorway at Avon Dassett at a speed which they considered to be in excess of the 70mph speed limit which applied to that stretch of road.
"(b) The speed was recorded at 99.76 miles per hour for a distance of 4.821 miles by means of a VASCAR speed meter.
"(c) The vehicle was caused to stop and the driver of the Seat Toledo, a male who appeared to be around 25 years of age, was invited into the police car whereupon a conversation took place.
"(d) The driver gave his details to the police as follows:
"Name: Simon Nicholas Bayliff
"Address: Bracken Ridge, 28, Watson Way, Balsall Common, West Midlands
"Date of birth: 18th day of September 1975
"Occupation: Manager for the SFX Sports Group."
"(e) A check carried out at the time on the Police National Computer confirmed the Seat Toledo was registered to SFX Sports Group.
"(f) The driver declined to give any further details or sign any paperwork.
"(g) He was then required to produce a certificate of insurance covering his use of the vehicle but failed to do so at that time.
"(h) It was unlikely that either officer would be able to identify the driver a full year after the incident.
"(i) A summons was subsequently issued in the name of Simon Nicholas Bayliff, with a date of birth given as 18th September 1975, and it was served at Bracken Ridge, 28, Watson Way, Balsall Common, West Midlands."
"We were of the opinion that
"(a) There had been evidence adduced in respect of the main ingredients of the offence.
"(b) Such evidence had not been discredited and certainly not to any extent which would make it unsafe for a reasonable tribunal to convict.
"(c) There was, therefore, a case to answer and we so found.
The case stated then goes on as follows:
"(d) However, having then reviewed the evidence in our final decision (and in the absence of any further evidence from the crown or any evidence from the defence) we could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the identity of the driver had been proved as that of the defendant and we accordingly dismissed all the informations."
It may be noted that nowhere in the case stated is it said whether or not the magistrates drew an adverse inference from the failure of the respondent to give any evidence.
"The defendant not being personally before the court, but appearing by counsel, were we right in law in the particular circumstances to acquit the defendant on the basis that identity had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt despite the evidence of the constable which included the name, address and date of birth given by the driver of the vehicle, notwithstanding the fact that no evidence was adduced by the defence?"
It is, at first sight, somewhat surprising, given the circumstances, that the magistrates, having rejected the submission of no case to answer (and Miss Judge appearing for the respondent today accepts that they were fully entitled to reject the submission of no case to answer) should nevertheless go on to dismiss the summonses as against the respondent, notwithstanding that no further evidence of any kind had been given at all. But it is by no means necessarily the case, even though one suspects it often will be the case, that magistrates in such circumstances are required, as it were, to convict if no further evidence has been called by the defendant, notwithstanding that the magistrates have previously rejected a submission of no case to answer. It may be, after all, that the magistrates have only very brief submissions at the submission of no case to answer stage. It may be that, after the conclusion of all the evidence and after detailed speeches, the magistrates have reason to revise or re-evaluate their provisional view at an earlier stage of the evidence as given or, quite simply, on a detailed consideration of the evidence at the close of trial, to find that they were not satisfied by the prosecution evidence. That, I think, accords with certain comments which can be found in the case of Scruby v Beskeen  RTR, which was cited to me by Miss Judge.
"An information was preferred against the defendant for driving at a speed in excess of the speed limit. At the hearing he was not in court but was represented by counsel. The only evidence for the prosecutor was that of a police constable who stated that he stopped a speeding vehicle and that the driver said that his name and address were those of the defendant. At the close of the prosecution's evidence counsel submitted that there was no case to answer on the ground that the prosecutor had not identified the defendant as the person driving the vehicle. The submission was rejected, no evidence was called for the defendant, a further submission that there was no evidence of identity was rejected, and he was convicted.
"On appeal against conviction on the ground that the evidence did not identify the defendant as the driver, and on the concession that there would have been such evidence if the name and address had been taken from a driving licence:
"Held, dismissing the appeal (1) that the concession attached some evidential value to a driving licence which it did not bear, for production of a driving licence by a driver amounted to no more than stating that his name and address were as given in it ...
"(2) That the constable's evidence that the driver said that his name and address were the same as the defendant's was some evidence that the driver and the defendant, who had presented himself not physically but by counsel at the hearing, were one and the same person; that that evidence was not conclusive and the weight to be attached to it depended on the totality of the evidence; and that, since it was the only evidence in the case and the defendant had appeared in court by counsel, the justices were justified in convicting."
It can be seen from a recital of what is set out in the headnote that that case had a very marked similarity to the present. Indeed, in the present case, there was this further particular feature, namely that the person driving the car had identified himself as being an employee of a particular company and the police had checked that the vehicle which they had stopped was indeed a car which was registered in the name of that particular company so identified by the driver.
"In my judgment the justices did have some evidence of the identity of the driver here, and at the end of the day it was the only evidence with which they were faced and they were then fully justified in convicting.
"In so far as it is necessary to refer to any authority whatsoever I would refer only to the words of Lord Alverstone CJ in Marshall v Ford (1908) 72 JP 480 where, in a case not dissimilar to the present case, he said at p 481:
"'When in the course of his duty a constable acting under the Act gets the name of a person who afterwards appears in court, that is evidence on which the magistrates may act.'"
Kenneth Jones J went on to state:
"In the present case the defendant did appear in court by counsel and those words of Lord Alverstone CJ in my judgment dispose of the point which has been raised by [counsel].
With that judgment Thompson J and Lord Widgery CJ agreed.