Unfair summing-up prompts retrial

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The Independent Online
A MAN serving a life sentence for murder has won the right to a retrial because his defence case was 'rubbished' by an Old Bailey judge in his summing-up to the jury.

Richard Martin King, 27, of east London, who is in Gartree top-security prison in Leicestershire, was jailed on 18 May 1990 by the then Recorder of London, Sir James Miskin QC, for the stabbing of Veronica Rose, in August 1989.

In the Court of Appeal yesterday, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Taylor, sitting with Mr Justice Simon Brown and Mr Justice Roch, said the court had read 'with dismay' the written record of Sir James's summing-up.

'We hope we never see another summing-up in this court which is as unfair as this. The duty of a judge in a criminal trial is to hold the ring and be fair to both parties.'

Lord Taylor said that judges were entitled to make comments during their summings-up.

'But the comments made in this case were extremely strong and couched in lurid language, and throughout they rubbished the defence raised by the appellant,' he said. An accused was entitled to a fair summing-up and a fair presentation of the defence case to the jurors, who should not be 'rail-roaded' into a verdict.

Sir James's comments had included the words 'manifest rubbish' and 'transparent nonsense'.

'This summing-up was wholly unfair,' Lord Taylor said.

King was refused bail pending his retrial at the Old Bailey.