Regina v Croydon Justices Ex Parte Dean: QBD 9 Mar 1993

The applicant a 17 year old assisted the police in a murder investigation on the understanding, induced by the police, that he would not himself be prosecuted. Some weeks later, at the instance of the CPS, the applicant was charged with a lesser offence of having destroyed evidence connected with the same crime. He submitted that this was an abuse of process.
Held: A prosecution was an abuse of process after an indication had been given that no prosecution was to follow. If there has been a serious abuse of power by the police or others in authority so as to offend the court’s sense of justice and propriety, that can give rise to an abuse of process even if a fair trial is still possible.
Staughton LJ: ‘It is submitted on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service that they alone are entitled, and bound, to decide who shall be prosecuted, at any rate in this category of case; and that the police had no authority and no right to tell the applicant that he would not be prosecuted for any offence in connection with the murder: see section 3(2) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. I can readily accept that. I also accept that the point is one of constitutional importance. But I cannot accept the submission of [counsel for the prosecution] that, in consequence, no such conduct by the police can ever give rise to an abuse of process. The effect on the applicant or for that matter on his father, of an undertaking or promise or representation by the police was likely to have been the same in this case whether it was or was not authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service. It is true that they might have asked their solicitor whether an undertaking, promise or representation by the police was binding and he might have asked the Crown Prosecution Service whether it was made with their authority. But it seems unreasonable to expect that in this case. If the Crown Prosecution Service find that their powers are being usurped by the police, the remedy must surely be a greater degree of liaison at an early stage . . In my judgment the prosecution of a person who has received a promise, undertaking or representation from the police that he will not be prosecuted is capable of being an abuse of process. Mr Collins was eventually disposed to concede as much, provided (i) that the promisor had power to decide, and (ii) that the case was one of bad faith or something akin to that. I do not accept either of those requirements as essential.’


Staughton LJ, Buckley J


Independent 09-Mar-1993, [1993] QB 769, (1994) 98 Cr App R 76

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Manchester Stipendiary City Magistrates ex parte Pal Tagger Admn 29-Nov-1996
The defendant appealed his conviction for illegal entry. He complained that after first being proceeded against for illegal working, it was an abuse now to pursue this prosecution.
Held: No abuse had been established, only delay. . .
CitedJones v Whalley Admn 10-May-2005
The defendant had been cautioned by the police for an assault on the claimant. The claimant then began a private prosecution which the magistrates stayed as an abuse of process.
Held: The caution administered was not simply a conviction so as . .
CitedDepartment for Work and Pensions v Courts Admn 3-May-2006
The appellant challenged stays of proceedings by the respondent magistrates court for abuse of process infringing the defendants’ human right to a fair trial. The magistrates had fund that being faced with dismissal of a summary case through delay, . .
CitedJones v Whalley HL 26-Jul-2006
The appellant had assaulted the respondent. He had accepted a caution for the offence, but the claimant had then pursued a private prosecution. He now appealed refusal of a stay, saying it was an abuse of process.
Held: The defendant’s appeal . .
CitedRegina v Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court ex parte Fiona Watts Admn 8-Feb-1999
The defendant sought to have dismissed as an abuse of proces charges against her that as an officer of Customs and Excise prosecuting the now private prosecutor, she had committed various offences.
Held: The magistrate was vested with . .
CitedRegina v Abu Hamza CACD 28-Nov-2006
The defendant had faced trial on terrorist charges. He claimed that delay and the very substantial adverse publicity had made his fair trial impossible, and that it was not an offence for a foreign national to solicit murders to be carried out . .
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Ara Admn 21-Jun-2001
The Director challenged the decision of the magistrates to stay a prosecution of the defendant as an abuse of process. The defendant had been interviewed without a solicitor. He went away to seek legal advice. The solicitor requested a copy of the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice, Police

Updated: 09 April 2022; Ref: scu.86487