Our client’s conviction for a sexual offence, which was imposed after a summary trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, has been overturned and quashed by the Sheriff Appeal Court in Scotland, as per a recent decision. Our firm’s persistence in submitting CCTV footage for the Appeal Court to review was crucial in reaching this decision.
The Case and Conviction
The trial took place on 11 July 2022. Following evidence, our client was found guilty as libelled. Submissions were made by Andrew Seggie, defending, that in the overall context the touching could not be seen to be sexual given that the accused had no prior contact with the complainer.
The Appeal Process
An application for a Stated Case was lodged timeously. This is the process whereby the Sheriff provides a written account as to the reasons for convicting the accused. Once received, after a period of adjustments, the Appeal against conviction and sentence was lodged with the Sheriff Appeal Court. The court initially “sifts” through all appeals to determine whether the appeal is of sufficient substance in law to merit an appeal hearing. At this stage the appeal was refused with the reasons given by the presiding Sheriff being:
- The sheriff did not accept the accused’s evidence where it was materially different from the complainer.
- The sheriff applied common sense to the case in determining whose evidence he preferred.
At this stage we consulted further with Senior Counsel and consequently lodged a further appeal to the Second Sift. At this stage we took the step of seeking to lodge the CCTV footage from the original trial to assist the appeal process.
Lodging such evidence was not without its difficulties as it is the norm at this stage for the appeal process to focus solely on the Stated Case written material. We were, however, successful in doing so.
On 21 March 2023, the Second Sift allowed the appeal to proceed to a Hearing on the basis that “on viewing the CCTV, the appeal is arguable”.
On 18 April 2023, the Appeal Hearing took place. Edward Targowski KC was instructed to represent our client. After hearing submissions, including viewing of the CCTV evidence, the Appeal Court Sheriffs quashed the conviction and sentence on the basis that the Sheriff at trial had “erred in their failure to take into account all relevant circumstances” and thus sustained the appeal.
This was a particularly anxious matter for the accused, as it would be for any person faced with such an allegation. The conviction had been widely reported and we were pleased to see the quashing of the conviction also being covered by the media.
At Levy and McRae we tirelessly represent every client who entrusts us with the crucially important role of protecting their liberty and reputation. We will pursue every route and remedy available to us, as evidenced in the successful outcome achieved in this instance.