Sexual Offence Successes
Social media audit trail leads to acquittal in sexual assault case
A young man accused of a sexual assault, with intent to rape, on a schoolgirl was found not guilty by a unanimous verdict at Falkirk Sheriff Court. Each of the people in the case was a youngster and they knew each other socially.
Facebook records were used to track the nature of the relationship between them, in a case which involved detailed analysis of social media communications. Again, this case illustrated MTM's forensic approach to events and communications, which revealed the true state of affairs between the two people involved in this case and safeguarded the liberty and the reputation of the young man.
Client avoids 5-year custodial sentence in downloading and possession of indecent images case
This was a case involving a client charged with downloading and possession of indecent images of children. His position was that the images were put on his computer because it was not password protected and he used to have gatherings of friends at his house. He denied knowledge of the images and of having downloaded them.
Martin Morrow of MTM met the Crown investigators and examined the history of the downloads. He was able to establish that the downloads had come through in batches and on certain days of the week – and that they had not been opened. The question was why had the person not opened them. It might be that, if they are not the home-owner, they would have a very limited window of time to access the images; if they were the home-owner, they would of course have plenty of time to do so. The client was then charged with the alternative charge of being in possession of these items and the Crown case was that he had downloaded them, and by downloading them he was in possession of them. MTM's position was that the client did not download them and did not know that they were there because we investigated and found that a file had been created inside the computer. It was the only file that had been created within the last four years, so it was clearly a variation in pattern. Bizarrely, the court acquitted him of the more serious charge of downloading but convicted him of possession.
MTM knocked out the main charge of downloading and then invited the judge not to sentence the client at all. The judge put the client on the sexual offenders' register for a one-week period only and fined him. The judge clearly felt that he had to give the client some kind of sentence despite the illogicality of the jury's conviction on the lesser charge of possession. The critical element in this case was MTM's focus on examining the time-frame behind the downloads in this case and establishing that they were not looked at. All the evidence pointed to the fact that the client had not downloaded the files, and, critically, did not know that they were there and had not looked at them. The judge's decision reflected this, and it was why he did not give the client a custodial sentence for the possession charge on which the jury had (illogically) convicted the client. The end result was that the client faced only a small fine instead of a 5-year custodial sentence.
As a footnote to this complicated case, the client did not appeal because he did not have legal insurance and the costs in terms of expert witnesses and time associated with pursuing the case would have been too high. If he had had insurance, MTM would have been able to pursue the appeal and is confident that the much reduced conviction itself would have been overturned.
Successful appeal against sentence for client in high-profile case
In a highly unusual and high-profile case, a senior civil servant accused and convicted of voyeurism received a custodial sentence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. MTM was brought in to appeal the sentence, which was reduced to a community payback order. The case achieved a particular prominence not only because of the nature of the multiple offences, but also, perhaps even more importantly, that the person in question was a senior adviser to the Scottish Government.
The crime had involved the accused taking so-called 'up-skirt' photographs of women using his phone over a period of several months, at two busy and well known locations – Waverley Railway Station in Edinburgh and Buchanan Galleries shopping mall in Glasgow.
By its nature, an appeal indicates that there has been a miscarriage of justice. At MTM, we thought the Sheriff had got the original sentence wrong; more importantly, we were able to convince appeal judges that the original sentence was wrong. The case illustrated the91 realities of dealing with difficult cases, which always require due diligence and the persistence to see things through to the end.
MTM secures acquittal in sexual offences case in Edinburgh High Court
A good defence team will challenge evidence at every turn. This nowhere more important than in cases involving sexual offences, where generally there are only two people present and no other witnesses. Establishing what really happened, and getting the jury to consider if the evidence against the accused really is incontrovertible, is of vital importance.
In a case involving two young people, the accused and the alleged victim, MTM persuaded the jury that the behaviour of the victim was inconsistent with her having been subjected to a serious physical trauma. The jury could not be certain beyond reasonable doubt, and they decided to acquit. In this case, the accused could have been convicted of an alternative charge of sex with an under-age person; in the end, the jury decided that they could not be certain that any offence had been committed. MTM's client's reputation was upheld and he avoided a term of 5 – 6 years imprisonment
Social media audit trail leads to acquittal in sexual assault case
A young man accused of a sexual assault, with intent to rape, on a schoolgirl was found not guilty by a unanimous verdict at Falkirk Sheriff Court. Each of the people in the case was a youngster and they knew each other socially. Facebook records were used to track the nature of the relationship between them, in a case which involved detailed analysis of social media communications.
MTM highlights previous false complaints in sexual assault case
Being accused of a serious sexual assault is devastating. It is the job of the defence team to ensure that allegations are properly sifted at all stages. In a jury case, MTM successfully investigated previous false complaints made by the complainer or alleged victim in the case. Careful cross-examination revealed the nature and extent of these previous false complaints or allegations. It all led to MTM's defence team being able to persuade the court that the alleged victim was not being truthful. Our client was acquitted of the charge.
MTM successfully challenges relevancy of charge
An MTM client, who was charged on a summary complaint with breaching the Sexual Offences Act 2003, has had the case against him thrown out. This very serious charge may well have resulted in a sentence of imprisonment.
A close examination of the charge against the client resulted in MTM identifying a legal flaw in the drafting of the charge on the complaint. MTM moved quickly to challenge the relevancy of the charge at a legal debate in the Sheriff Court. So effective was the challenge that the Sheriff was successfully persuaded that the complaint should be dismissed because of the drafting error in the charge. It is one thing to identify a legal error, and another to persuade in a debate – MTM was able to achieve both, and get the case thrown out on a legal technicality thanks to its attention to detail and powers of persuasion.
Reputation is all – and so is expertise
Two MTM clients have been cleared on the same day of two serious charges at Falkirk Sheriff Court.
In the first case, the client was charged with a serious sexual offence. If he had been convicted he would have almost certainly have faced imprisonment and his name entered on the Sex Offenders Register. The client had no history of sexual offending.
Such cases are a difficult area of the law and some of the most sensitive. The potential damage to reputation is almost incalculable – from personal relationships to work and social life. Skilful cross-examination of the complainer in the case by the MTM team led to the Procurator Fiscal deciding to abandon the prosecution.
In the second case, a client, who had been remanded in custody to await trial, was found not guilty of an alleged serious dishonesty offence under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. The client, who had no previous convictions for dishonesty, would have faced many months of imprisonment had they been convicted.
Each case illustrates the power of professional knowledge and the value of skilful advocacy. There is another point to all this too: MTM is on the side of its clients, often when no-one else is.
Sheriff Court acquittals
Acquittals so far this month in the Sheriff Court include charges of assault, domestic assault, breach of the peace, and sexual offences under the Criminal Law Act 1995.
MTM gets acquittal despite eye-witnesses' evidence
An MTM client has been acquitted of two very serious sexual offences at a Sheriff & Jury trial. This is the result of a thorough investigation of the prosecution evidence and extensive preparation of the defence case over a period of about a year, and then expert cross-examination and advocacy in court.
Had the client been convicted, the maximum sentence was five years imprisonment. The acquittal was despite the evidence of various eye-witnesses who gave evidence that he had committed the offences.
MTM investigates – and gets a result without going to court.
MTM has succeeded in persuading the Crown to discontinue a prosecution for Rape and Serious Assault at Glasgow High Court. MTM, assisted by a leading QC, conducted a detailed analysis of the prosecution evidence over many months. The significant inconsistencies uncovered in the alleged victim's statements, which were sent to the Crown, led to the Crown being persuaded to drop the prosecution.
MTM wins rape case in the High Court in Glasgow
MTM has successfully defended a client, who was accused of rape, in the High Court in Glasgow. It is another example of a difficult case where professional legal expertise is of paramount importance: rape is one of the most serious crimes that a person can be accused of, with huge implications for a person's reputation and future.