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20 November 2012
Slater and Gordon Criminal & Misconduct Solicitor Richard Black represented a Merseyside detective constable facing criminal proceedings. The detective was acquitted of all charges and the Judge of the particular case told him that "he should not be criticised in any way for his actions - the trial has completely exonerated him".
The case at Preston Crown Court related to an alleged brawl between two sets of fans prior to the Everton v Liverpool match in January 2011.
It was alleged that two Everton fans became involved in a fight at the King Harry pub near Anfield stadium during which the prosecution said Scott Wells was assaulted. It was alleged that the defendants had put pressure on Wells to withdraw his complaint and further alleged against my client that while working in the same office as the officers investigating the brawl he had passed on confidential information about the case.
He was one of 8 defendants appearing for trial at the Preston Crown Court. They were all charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and the trial was listed for 8-10 weeks and was heard by the Recorder of Preston.
A few months before the start of the trial the indictment was amended and my client was taken off the conspiracy and separately indicted on one count of misconduct in a public office. Five weeks into the trial Judge Anthony Russell QC said the case had "fallen apart".
Wells attended at the Crown Court and gave evidence that when he subsequently retracted his police statement he denied coming under any pressure to do so. Judge Russell told the jury: "Wells' evidence as it emerged did indeed torpedo the prosecution case below the waterline." In a scathing legal ruling, he said: "To use a phrase which is somewhat overused at the moment, the prosecution case is a shambles and in my judgement there is not sufficient evidence to go before the Jury."
Significantly the Judge also said of my client: "There is no case at all for him to answer. In my judgment he should not be criticised in any way for his actions - the trial has completely exonerated him."
The case had attracted much local media publicity, especially after the trial collapse when there were reports that taxpayers have been left with a multi-million pound bill following the collapse. The total cost of the botched trial may reach in excess of £2.5m when defence, investigation and prosecution costs are factored in. Forensic analysis of the defendants’ mobile phones are believed to have cost up to £30,000 alone.
The case was funded by the Police Federation and following the not guilty verdict against my client, an order was made that his defence costs can be met from central funds.
Sunday 09th September 2012
Sunday 02nd September 2012