It was the last day of the insurance cover Grace had on the car and just the week before he had been offered a place with the police, the court was told.
That offer was rescinded following his conviction.Just as well!
The judge had some harsh words for the legal profession, too:
Addressing the court, the judge attacked legal firms who told clients not to answer police questions.
He said: 'He knew he was driving too fast, he knew he had caused the death but he made no comment in interview.'
'He was not well served by anybody who was advising him in the police station to go 'no comment'. I make no bones about it.'
He read part of a letter from Rory Scarlett's parents, Felix and Laura, in which they said: 'Pleading not guilty was a foolish and wasteful exercise, doomed from the outset.'
'Any professionals responsible for advising him to plead not guilty should hang their heads in shame. They have probably made the situation worse for him.'You expect shame from lawyers?
"... had been 'showing off' at the wheel of his mother's Citroen C4"
A life time of shame will follow him for that.
But seriously, careless driving? His own friends told the court what he'd said before the accident. More like 'couldn't care less' driving to me.
I've always been slightly nervous when drivers are threatened with jail for what are often nothing more than accidents... even when people die because of them. But where there is clear intent to behave like a deliberate jerk on the roads then they should see the inside of a cell.
I'm not surprised the Judge was angry. He knows full well that the 'no comment', 'not guilty' ploy worked in this case - as it does in too many others.
As an ex-lawyer, I would advise all readers of this blog not to say anything to the police. Ever.
That is all.
"You have the right to remain silent...."
"... but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court."
Surely, there's an implied risk above for those choosing to remain silent? How come we never see it in practise?
Advising everyone to go no comment is poor legal advice. You don't need to be a solicitor to give that advice any fool can do that.
One Saturday I had the pleasure of interviewing a drink driver from the night before with his smart arse solicitor present, it was almost midday. I started the interview and the defendant replied NO COMMENT to each question on his lawyers advice. He had been found asleep behind the wheel of the vehicle with the engine running. It was a company vehicle. Q Were you the driver of ______? A NO COMMENT Q Have you the consent of the owner to drive the vehicle? A NO COMMENT. At that point I arrested him on suspicion of taking the vehicle without consent and suspended the interview. Solicitor went ballistic and made complaint to custody officer. I explained that I needed to make further enquiries to establish if the defendant had lawful consent to have the vehicle and being a Saturday lunchtime the company would be closed until Monday.............at that point solicitor decided he needed a further consultation with his client and 5 minutes later appeared with the phone number of his clients boss and told me to ring him. I told him I was willing to restart the interview. This time his client supplied the information, I made the enquiries and he was promptly dealt with. During process he told me that he had wanted to be truthful from the start but that his solicitor instructed him to go no comment and he had simply wasted his time. He was not impressed with his lack of legal advice nor was I
The removal, some might say it's only modiification, of the right to silence, is a disgrace.
I would want that right because I've seen too many stories over the last decade of victims being treated the same as criminals.
I do not expect ever to be a criminal, and I want protection against an 'enthusiastic' copper seeing me as a way to getting his arrest numbers up.
I don't see anything wrong with an interviewee keeping silent and making the prosecution prove their case.
"A life time of shame will follow him for that."
It's unlikely to feature in the next iteration of 'Grand Theft Auto: Norfolk' is it?
"Surely, there's an implied risk above for those choosing to remain silent? How come we never see it in practise?"
"During process he told me that he had wanted to be truthful from the start but that his solicitor instructed him to go no comment and he had simply wasted his time. He was not impressed with his lack of legal advice nor was I"
I wonder if he asked for his money back? ;)
"I'm not surprised the Judge was angry. He knows full well that the 'no comment', 'not guilty' ploy worked in this case - as it does in too many others"
If the case had been proven by evidence, then silence would have had no benefit.
Since the charge proceeded with was careless driving one assumes that no evidence was available, for a more serious charge, other than an admission by the accused. Blaming the legal representative was an obvious "sympathy" ploy afterwards.
The right to silence is qualified, in a few ways.
One is that the use of that right is presented to the jury, usually by the summing-up at the trial end. Another is the Road Traffic Act 1988 (S. 172) by which a person is required to disclose who was driving a vehicle even if it was him/herself. Failure to disclose is prosecutable.
Anyway, sound legal advice from a former police officer:
Never explain to the Police
If the Police arrive to lock you up, say nothing. You are a decent person and you may think that reasoning with the Police will help. “If I can only explain, they will realise it is all a horrible mistake and go away”. Wrong. We do want to talk to you on tape in an interview room but that comes later. All you are doing by trying to explain is digging yourself further in. We call that stuff a significant statement and we love it. Decent folk can’t help themselves, they think that they can talk their way out. Wrong.
To do anything more than lock you up for a few hours we need to prove a case. The easiest route to that is your admission. Without it, our case may be a lot weaker, maybe not enough to charge you with. In any case, it is always worth finding out exactly how damning the evidence is before you fall on your sword. So don’t do the decent and honourable thing and admit what you have done. Don’t even deny it or try to give your side of the story. Just say nothing. No confession and CPS are on the back foot already.
They forsee a trial. They fear a trial. They are looking for any excuse to send you home free.
Keep your mouth shut
Say as little as possible to us. At the custody office desk a Sergeant will ask you some questions. It is safe to answer these. For the rest of the time, say nothing.
Always always always have a solicitor.
Duh. No brainer this one. Unless you know 100% for sure that your mate the solicitor does criminal law and is good at it, ask for the Duty Solicitor. They certainly do criminal law and they are good at it. Then listen to what the solicitor says and do it. Their job is to get you off without the Cops or CPS laying a glove on you if at all possible. It is what they get paid for. They are free to you. There is no down side. Now decent folks think it makes them look like they have something to hide if they ask for a solicitor. Irrelevant. Going into an interview without a solicitor is like taking a walk in Tottenham with a big gold Rolex. Bad things are very likely to happen to you. I wouldn’t do it and I interview people for a living.
Do not talk to them or admit anything. They will try to fit you up if they possibly can.
The anon coppers comment at 5 above was a weekend fluke. Don't talk to them--Johnm above calls it right.
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