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‘Judge Misdirection’ Appeal Against Conviction Refused

HMA v William Fenton

Mr Fenton who was found guilty of rape and sexual assault has his appeal against conviction refused at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh. Mr Fenton argued that he suffered a “miscarriage of justice” because the trial judge “misdirected” the jury on the issue of corroboration. However, the Appeal Court did not agree with his argument and the appeal was rejected. The appellant was charged with offences relating to four young girls which included spiking drinks in order to assault and rape them. The trial was held in Glasgow in 2013 and Mr Fenton was found guilty. The appellant was convicted of all 5 charges which were libelled. The appellant argued in the appeal that the jury were misdirected that they could make deletions on any of the charges and they were also misdirected on the issue of corroboration. The solicitor advocate for the defence argued that the judge did not direct the jury that should that they required to be satisfied on all elements of a charge and that they could delete any element of an offence that had not been proven. The appellants defence team also argued that the trial judge misdirected the jury of the issue of corroboration in relation to consent.

However, all appeal judges agreed that the trial Judges directions were in fact correct. Lord Carloway stated in conclusion: “The trial judge was directing the jury in the context of the defence presentation, which was based on a denial that the appellant had spiked any drinks given to any of the complainers and had not sexually assaulted them in any way. It was unreasonable to expect the trial judge to explain every theoretical combination of the various charges…As he correctly pointed out, the charges stood or fell together. If the administration of a stupefying drug was removed, the complainers’ lack of consent was also removed. There would therefore have been no basis on which the jury could convict.”

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