Sunday, February 23, 2014

Two occasions for caution: dock identification, and witnesses who may have an improper motive

Where a witness has had an opportunity at an identification parade to identify the defendant but has failed to do so, the prosecutor should not invite the witness to identify the defendant in the dock at trial, and should be at pains to avoid a dock identification: Lawrence v The Queen (Jamaica) [2014] UKPC 2 (11 February 2014) at [11].

The Board summarised its dicta in previous cases on dock identification and the warnings that must be given by a trial judge when they are permitted, applying in particular Holland v HM Advocate [2005] UKPC D1, mentioned here on 26 February 2008 in relation to Pipersburgh v R (Belize) [2008] UKPC 11, and again here on 26 April 2006 in relation to Edwards v R (Jamaica) [2006] UKPC 23.

There is also in Lawrence a summary of the law on when the judge should warn the jury that a witness’s evidence may be tainted by an improper motive. These warnings need to be tailored to the circumstances of the case and the overriding rule is that the defence must be put fairly and adequately [15] – [18].