In recent months, the media has been occupied with reports of criminal defence trials which have seen the wrongly accused finally walk free. Most recently were accusations of sexual assault and rape against twenty-two year old Liam Allan, and Ulster and Northern Ireland rugby players Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson.
In both cases, the trial continued for almost two years. In the public eye, the social media fire storm hurled abuse at the accused who were all found to be not guilty. In the case of Liam Allan, the trial collapsed when previously non-disclosed evidence was brought to the attention of prosecutions barrister Jerry Hayes. In a follow-up BBC interview he emphasises the “tremendous pressure” that the police and justice systems are suffering due to treasury cut-backs that have seen mistakes made and systems slip at the cause of diminishing backroom and admin staff.
Where misplaced accusations have been made, a criminal defence case can be devastating and destructive for the accused and their loved ones. Under these circumstances, Investigation services are frequently used by solicitors, where senior detectives and chief police officers perform in-depth investigations into every aspect of the case. We share what their appointment can do for a case.
Cut-backs cause catastrophe in the criminal justice system. As the number of bodies in a department drops, the workload must be taken on by the remaining team members. Only humans, we cannot be expected to work with constant precision and speed when stress and time pressures are thrown increasingly onto us. Naturally mistakes are made. Employing investigation services eliminates the opportunity for these mistakes to go missed. By performing comprehensive examinations of the evidence and circumstances surrounding the incident can provide vital information to a solicitor that may significantly strengthen their criminal defence case.
The investigation services won’t just read through the evidence, they will approach it with a fine tooth comb. In doing so they are able to identify significant evidence missed by rushed or less senior members of the force. They can also advise areas that require further investigation or new lines of enquiry. They can strengthen a case with an in-depth review of unused material that may undermine the prosecution case and assist the defence. The investigation services’ expertise can also cover human and technical surveillance where required.
Revisit crime scenes, perform thorough checks of photographs, phone messages, and witness statements as well as everyday paperwork, the professional investigators are specialists in spotting incompetence and inconsistencies. Their understanding of legal practises and the importance of objectivity mean they are a great asset to a criminal defence solicitor. All of their gathered evidence will be written into a report that can be used by the defence solicitor to add weight to their case. If appropriate, the investigations professional can act as a witness in court.
Experienced in interviewing defendants and witnesses, a senior detective can uncover inconsistencies by assessing original interviews and conducting further ones. They can spot discrepancies where there is a crossover of witnesses and verify that a previous incident or resentment hadn’t motivated their initial statement against the defendant. Crucially, their comprehension of the evidence can highlight witnesses who were missed in the original investigations. In these cases, additional witness statements can be significant to strengthening a defence case.
As a solicitor, you are constantly working against the clock to meet strict deadlines. You want to meet these deadlines with a defence case that is as well-structured and informed as possible. Placing your valuable time in specialised investigative material may have detrimental consequences for your court case. Unfamiliar with investigatory techniques, you will take on more stress and risk missing vital information hidden within a mass of evidence which a senior detective would spot quickly.
In essence, by appointing investigation professionals, you give yourself the time to focus on the court proceedings and to build a strong defence case, whilst the detective is occupied with the investigation. All of their gathered evidence will be written into a report that can be used by the defence solicitor to add weight to their case. If appropriate, the investigation professional can act as a witness in court.
Foresight Clinical Services have a nationwide network of former senior detectives and chief police officers each with 20+ years of experience ready to join your criminal defence case. Get in touch with one of our case managers to learn more about our investigation services and for a consultation.