Singh v. The State (Trinidad and Tobago)  UKPC 35 (03 August 2005)
Privy Council Appeal No. 54 of 2004
Jagdeo Singh Appellant
The State Respondent
THE COURT OF APPEAL OF
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
REASONS FOR DECISION OF THE LORDS OF THE
JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL, OF THE
16th June 2005, Delivered the 3rd August 2005
Present at the hearing:-
Lord Bingham of Cornhill
Lord Rodger Earlsferry
Baroness Hale of Richmond
Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
Sir Swinton Thomas
[Delivered by Lord Bingham of Cornhill]
"3.(1) Every person who, by himself or by or in conjunction with any other person, corruptly solicits or receives, or agrees to receive, for himself or for any other person, any gift, loan, fee, reward, or advantage whatsoever, as an inducement to, or reward for, or otherwise on account of, an agent doing or forbearing to do anything in respect of any matter or transaction whatsoever, actual or proposed, in which the State or a public body is concerned, is guilty of an offence.
(2) Every person who, by himself or by or in conjunction with any other person, corruptly gives, promises or offers any gift, loan, fee, reward, or advantage whatsoever, to any person, whether for the benefit of that person or of another person, as an inducement to, or reward for, or otherwise on account of, an agent doing or forbearing to do anything in respect of any matter or transaction whatsoever, actual or proposed, in which the State or a public body is concerned, is guilty of an offence."
"… in our judgment it is enough that the recipient takes the gift knowing that it is intended as a bribe. By accepting it as a bribe and intending to keep it he enters into a bargain, despite the fact that he may make to himself a mental reservation to the effect that he is not going to carry out his side of the bargain. The bargain remains a corrupt bargain, even though he may not be intending to carry out his intended corrupt act. Such a private determination avails him no more than would a private determination that a similar payment in respect of past favours was received by him because of some innocent matters other than a past favour."
"I think the word 'corruptly' in this statute means not 'dishonestly', but in purposely doing an act which the law forbids as tending to corrupt voters, whether it be to give a pecuniary inducement to vote, or a reward for having voted in any particular manner. Both the giver and the receiver in such a case may be said to act 'corruptly'."
"… Furthermore, in our view, on the plain wording of the statute, it is not necessary to prove that any member, officer or servant of a public body was in fact aware of what was going on when the improper offer was made or the bribe was passed, provided that the apparent purpose of the transaction was to affect the conduct of such a person corruptly."
"The accused is saying to you that he is a person of good character and where in a trial, a criminal trial, an accused brings forward his good character, places it before you, you must deal with that issue in this way. I say two things. Where a person brings his good character into focus and is asking you to take my good character into consideration in considering what I have said, good character is not a defence to a criminal charge, it is no defence, neither is it a passport against guilt. It doesn't mean because you have good character you cannot be found guilty, or you cannot commit a crime, there is always a first time.
But Members of the Jury, it is a factor that you must consider when you deal with the evidence of the accused. Take into consideration here is a person who has never committed any criminal offence, who has had a life in, involved in cultural activities and service to his community. And a person of, when you are considering his evidence the fact that a person is a person of unblemished record may mean that he is less likely than otherwise to commit this type of crime. That is how you use good character, that he is less likely than otherwise to commit this type of crime because of his hitherto good character."
"It is clear and this has been conceded by the State that the judge's directions on good character were inadequate. He omitted to direct the jury on the impact of the appellant's good character on the question of his credibility. Although the trial judge told the jury that the fact of his good character was a factor to be considered when dealing with the evidence of the appellant, we do not think that was sufficient to bring home to the jury that his good character was to be taken into account when they were considering whether or not they could accept his evidence as truthful. Indeed the question whether the money obtained by the appellant from Basdeo was his fees or not turned essentially on his credibility and that of Basdeo and the police officer Lynette Bridgelal."
"That decision therefore confirmed that, whatever the position may have been previously, it is now an established principle that, where a defendant of good character has given evidence, it is no longer sufficient for the judge to comment in general terms. He is required to direct the jury about the relevance of good character to the credibility of the defendant. Conventionally this has come to be described as the 'first limb' of a character direction. The passage quoted also stated that the judge was entitled, but not obliged, to refer to the possible relevance of good character to the question whether the defendant was likely to have behaved as alleged by the Crown. That, in effect the Stannard direction, is the 'second limb'.
Leaving aside cases involving more than one defendant where one is of good character and one is not, virtually all the numerous decisions since Reg. v Berrada (Note) 91 Cr. App. R. 131 have reiterated that the first limb direction is necessary wherever the defendant has given evidence. This has been held to be so even when, on his own admission, he has told lies in interview with the police: Reg. v Kabariti (1990) 92 Cr. App. R. 362."
"Undoubtedly the appellant was a person of good character at the time of this incident. He was a young man of 35, regarded by many as a competent lawyer. He had been involved in social activities in the community where he was born and grew up. He was an active member of a cultural group and an avid cricketer who was captain of his cricket team and indeed captain of all the teams for which he played. He also played football. Above all he has no previous convictions of any type.
Those qualities stood out in his favour. The question is, however, whether the omission by the trial judge to give the full good character direction resulted in a miscarriage of justice. Although the need to give a full good character direction has been emphasized in all the reported cases it has always been recognised that there may be some cases in which the omission of a good character direction does not render a conviction unsafe. Is this one such case? Mr Allum [for the appellant] submits that this is not; counsel for the State says it is. The answer turns on a critical analysis of the evidence.
We must therefore examine the evidence to determine whether in our opinion the jury would inevitably have convicted even if a full good character direction had been given. That is the test."