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Amended Charge During Trial Appeal Refused

HMA v Christopher McCormick 2019

Mr McCormick has had his appeal against conviction rejected after being found guilty of being in possession of an offensive weapon, namely a machete. The offence took place in October 2018 when it was reported that Mr McCormick was carrying an object from the home of his aunt to an open spaced area before being located by the police on a street corner. The appellant received a sentence of 3 and a half years imprisonment after being found guilty of the offence.

However, the appellant argued that the sheriff was wrong at the trial diet to allow the crown motion to amend the charge which changed the nature of the offence. This related to where the offence took place as this was change by the crown from ‘at’ the woodlands to at “in the wooded area near to” The appellant also argued that a no case to answer submission should be been upheld by the sheriff when made by his defence team as it was argued the aunt who originally made the police call could not identify the knife as being that held by the accused and therefore there was a question of corroboration as it was only the word of the police officer who found the knife. However, the appeal court did not agree with any of the arguments presented by the appellant.

The appeal court concluded that it was within the sheriff’s discretion to allow the crown amendment to the charge and there was nothing that could be said that any wrong principle had been applied. In relation to the argument relating to the refusal of the no case to answer Lord Menzies concluded: “There was sufficient in Mrs Leonard’s evidence to support the principal source of evidence, being Sergeant Lee. She spoke to the appellant being in her garden having a shiny item which was silvery and which she thought was a knife, held out in front of him while shouting abuse at her. Her evidence indicated proximity in time and place, just prior to Sergeant Lee seeing the appellant discard the bag…. All these adminicles of evidence amounted to a body of circumstantial evidence which could properly be seen as supporting Sergeant Lee.” Therefore, the appeal was refused.

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