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Successful appeal against conviction

Can a criminal conviction whilst under the age of 18 affect future job prospects or higher education?

A client approached us to appeal against his conviction at Worcester Crown Court in 2016. He had pleaded guilty to four sexual offences and one count of harassment at an early stage in the proceedings. All the allegations had related to one complainant.

It was an unusual case as although the client had been represented at the Magistrates’ Court by a duty solicitor, he had not had a solicitor or barrister to help him in the Crown Court when he had entered his guilty pleas.

A few years later the client instructed Correna Platt to look into the case and advise him if he had grounds to appeal his conviction. Correna and the team collated the key documents and completed a detailed review.

It was noted that the client had a history of psychiatric illness. At the time of the court proceedings he was suffering from significant learning difficulties which were (at that stage) undiagnosed. Neither the court nor the prosecution had spotted these issues. In preparing for his appeal, psychological and psychiatric reports were obtained which confirmed the client’s disabilities. Specialist counsel was instructed and an appeal was lodged that the conviction was unsafe because:

  1. The client’s pleas were equivocal;
  2. The client’s admissions of guilt were manifestly unreliable;
  3. Fresh evidence was available from medical experts regarding the client’s cognitive functioning disabilities and suggestibility.

A formal assessment of client’s cognitive functioning highlighted that the client had a learning disability which placed him on the 0-4 percentile range. This meant that the client had a greater tendency to vulnerability and manipulation from others. He was also found to be more suggestible and compliant to the requests of others.

The appeal was heard at the full Court of Appeal. The court ruled that the client’s convictions should be quashed. No re-trial was ordered.

The case highlights that even after a number of years since the court proceedings a person can still in some cases lodge a successful appeal outside the usual 28 day limit. It also highlights the importance of seeking legal advice throughout court proceedings.

Correna Platt is a senior partner in the crime department having been qualified as a solicitor for over 25 years. Correna has successfully represented a number of people at the Court of Appeal for serious offences. If a family member or you have been convicted of a serious offence and would like Correna to look at whether there are grounds of appeal please do not hesitate to contact the department on 0161 696 6188 or complete an online enquiry form.