Joined: 01 Mar 2009
|Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:56 am Post subject: Judge orders probe after police conceal evidence
|should the police be charged with blatantly attempting to pervert the course of justice?
Judge orders probe after police conceal witness statements from trial
A judge has ordered a high-level probe into why police concealed vital evidence from the trial of a man accused of trying to kill an officer in Inverness.
Liam Lee, 26 from Dublin, was accused of attempting to murder Constable John Stirling by running him over in the city’s Kessock Avenue.
The 26-year-old denied the charge and insisted he had mounted the kerb to avoid hitting him.
Witness statements taken by police in the hours after the incident backed up his claims.
However, prosecutors were never told about the statements, which contradicted those given by Constable Stirling and his colleague Constable Jonathan Stowe.
Their existence was only discovered after defence solicitor Graham Mann knocked on doors in South Kessock and spoke to people in the street.
Judge Norman Ritchie QC described the failure of the police to alert Crown prosecutors to key witness interviews as “simply incomprehensible”.
The statements were only made available at the start of the trial last week at the High Court in Glasgow, a failure described by prosecutor Alison Di Rollo as “unsatisfactory”.
Constable Stirling told the jury that Lee had attempted to murder him by trying to run him down.
Constable Stowe said he saw the car run over his colleague’s ankle. but after being cross-examined in court admitted that from where he was standing, it would have been impossible to see.
The murder bid allegation was dropped on the second day of the trial and Lee, who has 96 previous convictions for driving offences, admitted a much reduced charge of dangerous driving and striking the officer to his injury.
He was jailed for four-and-a-half years and also banned from driving for 12 years.
Judge Ritchie told the prosecutor: “Material which was going to contradict the case you wished to present was not known to the Crown.
“It is simply incomprehensible that the police did not report to the Crown that there were eyewitnesses.
“I can’t think of any good reason why anyone reporting this to the procurator fiscal would not have included the eyewitness statements.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We acknowledge the judge’s comments and can confirm matters raised during the trial are being reviewed.”
During the trial, the court heard that police stopped Lee’s BMW car because he had performed a U-turn and they thought he might be lost.
The officers spoke to Lee and the two passengers for 15 minutes before both passengers made a run for it.
One passenger returned to the car and Lee drove away.