Law Report: Judge must direct jury over lies told by defendant: Regina v Goodway. Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) (Lord Taylor of Gosforth, Lord Chief Justice, Mr Justice Alliott and Mr Justice Buckley), 29 July 1993

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Wherever lies told by the defendant might be relied on to support evidence of the defendant's guilt, as opposed to merely reflecting upon his credibility, the judge should direct the jury, as indicated in R v Lucas (1981) 1 QB 720 at 724, 73 Cr App R 159 at 162, that the lie must be deliberate and must relate to a material issue, that they had to be satisfied that there was no innocent motive for the lie, and they should remember that people sometimes lied, for example, to bolster up a just cause, or out of shame, or a wish to conceal disgraceful behaviour.

The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) allowed an appeal by Gary Michael Goodway against his conviction, at St Albans Crown Court, for murder, on the ground that the judge had materially misdirected the jury over the evidential effect of lies admittedly told by the appellant in police interviews. A retrial was ordered.

Robert Marshall-Andrews QC and Patrick Lawrence, who did not appear below (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Edward N Jenkins (CPS, St Albans) for the Crown.

LORD TAYLOR LCJ, giving the judgment of the court, said the murder, and a wounding for which the appellant had also been convicted, had occurred during a fracas taking place after the appellant and others, who had been attending a wedding reception at a community centre, met another group of people emerging from a public house. Both parties had had too much to drink.

When interviewed by the police, the appellant denied ever getting close to either victim and denied carrying or using the knife with which the injuries were inflicted, though he accepted it came from his kitchen. He said another man, strikingly similar in appearance, who was also arrested at the scene, had got hold of it and used it.

At the trial he did not give evidence but admitted he had lied to the police in denying ever getting close to either victim. The prosecution relied on these lies in support of other evidence of the appellantU's guilt, including the blood on his clothes and evidence of identification.

The judge gave an impeccable direction in accordance with R v Turnbull (1977) QB 224 about the jury's approach to identification evidence and then raised the question whether there was other evidence to support the witnesses' identification.

He referred to the assertions by the appellant in the police interviews, which the prosecution relied on as lies. Nowhere, however, did he give any direction as to how the jury should approach the lies told by an accused.

It was well established that where lies told by the defendant were relied on by the Crown or might be relied on by the jury as corroboration, where that was required, or as support for identification evidence, the judge should give a Lucas direction.

Here the appellant's lies were relied on by the Crown in support of identification evidence and the summing up encouraged the jury so to regard them. Accordingly, even on the limited basis established by Turnbull, this was a case in which a Lucas direction should have been given.

Moreover, in their Lordships' view there was no reason in principle or logic for drawing a distinction between corroboration and identification cases, and any other case in which lies might be relied on to support prosecution evidence. A Lucas direction should therefore be given in every case where lies were or might be relied on to support evidence of the defendant's guilt, as opposed to merely reflecting on his credibility.

The only exception, as outlined in R v Dehar (1969) NZLR 763 at 765, was where such a direction would be otiose, because rejection of the defendant's explanation almost necessarily left the jury with no choice but to convict as a matter of logic.