Law of Evidence:Berne

Question 1

“Those very real risks of hearsay evidence, which underlay the common law rule generally excluding it, remain critical to its management. Sometimes it is necessary in the interests of justice for it to be admitted. It may not suffer from the risks of unreliability which often attend such evidence, or its reliability can realistically be assessed. Equally, however, sometimes it is necessary in the interests of justice either that it should not be admitted at all.” R v Riat (2013).

Critically evaluate the law of hearsay and the impact of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Question 2

Bernie was arrested following the murder of a man in Newville and was taken to the city police station for questioning. He was interviewed by two CID officers who denied his requests to see a solicitor telling him that ‘there isn’t one available at the moment’.

During six hours of questioning, without break, the officers repeatedly shout at him that he must confess to the crime and one of them tells him that his wife and children have been brought to the police station and locked in a cell where they will stay until Bernie tells the police what they want to know. At no time is Bernie physically assaulted by either of the officers but he is extremely afraid and intimidated by their aggressive behaviour. After six hours he admits the killing.

Outline the possible challenges to the admission of the confession evidence and the factors which would influence the court in deciding the issue. In considering the case, you should be aware of the following facts:

• Bernie has a string of convictions for assault and burglary.

• Since his last arrest (and unknown to the police) Bernie was involved in a serious car crash which caused him permanent brain injury. This requires constant medication which he did not take whilst in custody

This assessment is comprised of TWO questions. BOTH must be answered and BOTH are marked equally.

Note that your answers should set out the relevant legal principles SUPPORTED BY RELEVANT PROVISIONS AND CASES and, where appropriate, offer advice to the parties.

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