APPEAL COURT, HIGH COURT OF JUSTICIARY
Lord Justice Clerk
Appeal No: C197/01
OPINION OF THE COURT
THE LORD JUSTICE CLERK
STUART GILBERT ROBERTSON SWEET
HER MAJESTY'S ADVOCATE
Appellant: Gilchrist; Blair & Bryden
Respondent: Di Rollo, QC, AD; Crown Agent
6 June 2002
"on 28 June 1999, at the house occupied by you at 13 Castle Street, Port Bannatyne, Isle of Bute, you did assault Elizabeth Edgar, c/o Rothesay Police Office, High Street, Rothesay and repeatedly punch and kick her about the head and body to her severe injury."
He was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. He appeals on the ground that the sheriff misdirected the jury on the essential issue of corroboration.
"Now, the second test that the Crown have to pass, ladies and gentlemen, is that to establish guilt there must be reliable evidence supporting the Crown case from more than one source and that is what we lawyers call corroboration. It doesn't mean, ladies and gentlemen, that each item of evidence must be spoken to by more than one witness. It really means that you cannot convict except on the evidence from two or more separate sources which implicate Mr. Sweet beyond reasonable doubt as the perpetrator of the crime with which he has been charged. The kind of evidence, ladies and gentlemen, could be two witnesses speaking to one incident or one witness plus supporting circumstances. In this particular case, ladies and gentlemen, the question of corroboration is not a matter which you need to concern yourself with. The Crown have passed that test. As Mr. Most said to you yesterday afternoon, if they hadn't passed that test I wouldn't be speaking to you this morning quite bluntly. It would have been a matter which would have been dealt with outwith your presence as a matter of law so you don't need to worry yourselves about corroboration."
In giving this direction the sheriff, although no doubt concerned mainly with the question of sufficiency, also introduced the question of the reliability of the evidence that was required to establish guilt. This is the direction complained of.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the case against Mr. Sweet depends on several strands of evidence. It is for you and only you to say at the end of that evidence what the total sum and effect of the evidence is. It is for you and only you to judge the credibility of the witnesses, taking into account their demeanour, their appearance in the witness box and the evidence they have given to you."
In giving this additional direction the sheriff raised the question of the credibility of the witnesses, but not their reliability.
"Finally, ladies and gentlemen, in this general part in conclusion what do you require? You require a completed pattern of evidence from more than one source which you find credible, reliable and of sufficient weight and which satisfies you beyond reasonable doubt as to the guilt of Mr. Sweet. Your verdict, ladies and gentlemen, must be based on the evidence and reasonable inferences from it. You must not speculate. You have a duty to acquit, ladies and gentlemen, if any piece of evidence, even if not believed or wholly believed, casts a reasonable doubt on the Crown case."
The advocate depute relied on this direction.