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Appeal Regarding Admissibility of CCTV Evidence – Section 283 Certificate

PF v David McLean 2019

Mr McLean was acquitted during a trial at Paisley Sheriff Court of charges of contravention of sections 103, driving whilst disqualified and 143, driving without insurance, of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The Sheriff upheld a no case to answer submission by the defence which led to his acquittal.

Objection was taken by the defence to Crown evidence, namely CCTV, which was also upheld by the Sheriff. The Crown appealed by stated case to the Sheriff Appeal Court. The appeal was successful and the acquittal was quashed and the Crown will now re-raise proceedings.

The Crown asked the Sheriff Appeal Court to consider if the Sheriff was entitled to uphold a defence objection to a police officer being asked questions about CCTV footage or, if in fact, she had erred. This came back as a negative from the Sheriff Appeal Court as they concluded that the Sheriff weighed the scales of justice too far on the side of the Respondent in this case.

There was an absence of a section 283 certificate in this case and the sheriff took this as a failure on the part of the crown, however the appeal court made it clear that the crown should have been asked if this could have established the provenance of the CCTV, which was crucial to this case, by any other means.

The police officers in this case could have still spoken to the CCTV evidence. In light of the recent case of Gubinas relating to the admissibility of CCTV evidence, the Sheriff Appeal Court made it clear there is now a common misconception that a section 283 certificate is always required to establish the provenance of CCTV footage. The Appeal Court in this present case wish to abolish this misconception, as this is untrue. The defence relied on this heavily in this case and the Sheriff agreed, which the Appeal Court considered an error on the part of the Sheriff.

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