Downey, Regina v: Misc 21 Feb 2014

Central Criminal Court – The defendant faced charges of terrorist act of murder during the Irish troubles. He argued that the trial ws an abuse of process on four grounds, but particularly for a letter he had received after the Good Friday agreement which, he said, in effect gave a clear reassurance that he would not face trial if he returned to the UK.
Held: On that ground but not otherwise, the prosecution should be stayed: ‘Given the core facts as I have found them to be, and the wider undisputed facts, I have conducted the necessary evaluation of what has occurred in the light of the competing public interests involved. Clearly, and notwithstanding a degree of tempering in this case by the operation of the 1998 Act, the public interest in ensuring that those who are accused of serious crime should be tried is a very strong one (with the plight of the victims and their families firmly in mind). However, in the very particular circumstances of this case it seems to me that it is very significantly outweighed in the balancing exercise by the overlapping public interests in ensuring that executive misconduct does not undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system and bring it into disrepute, and the public interest in holding officials of the state to promises they have made in full understanding of what is involved in the bargain. Hence I have concluded that this is one of those rare cases in which, in the particular circumstances, it offends the court’s sense of justice and propriety to be asked to try the defendant.’

Sweeney J
[2014] EW Misc 7 (CCrimC)
England and Wales

Criminal Practice

Updated: 30 November 2021; Ref: scu.521637