Regina v Gray: CACD 30 Apr 2004

The court examined the authorities as to good chracter directions where a defendant had previous convictions. Rix LJ said: ‘In our judgment the authorities discussed above entitled us to state the following principles as applicable in this context:
(1) The primary rule is that a person of previous good character must be given a full direction covering both credibility and propensity. Where there are no further acts to complicate the position, such a direction is mandatory and should be unqualified (Vye, Aziz).
(2) If a defendant has a previous conviction which, either because of its age or nature, may entitle him to be treated as of effective good character, the trial judge has a discretion so to treat him, and if he does so the defendant is entitled to a Vye direction (passim); but
(3) Where the previous conviction can only be regarded as irrelevant or of no significance in relation to the offence charged, that discretion ought to be exercised in favour of treating the defendant as of good character (H, Durbin and, to the extent that it cited H with apparent approval, Aziz). In such a case the defendant is entitled to again entitled to a Vye direction. It would seem to be consistent with principle (4) below that, where there is room for uncertainty as to how a defendant of effective good character should be treated, a judge would be entitled to give an appropriately modified Vye direction.
(4) Where a defendant of previous good character, whether absolute or we would suggest, effective, has been shown at trial, whether by admission or otherwise, to be guilty or criminal conduct, the prima facie rule of practice is to deal with this by qualifying a Vye direction rather than by withholding it (Vye, Derbin, Aziz); but
(5) In such a case, there remains a narrowly circumscribed residual discretion to withhold a good character direction in whole, or presumably in part, where it would make no sense or would be meaningless or absurd or an insult to commonsense, to do otherwise (Zoppola-Barrazza and Dictor Derbin and Aziz)’


Rix LJ


[2004] EWCA Crim 1074, [2004] 2 Cr App R 30




CitedRegina v Vye etc CACD 7-Apr-1993
Detailed guidance was given on good character directions, as to how and when they should be given, but: ‘Provided that the judge indicates to the jury the two respects in which good character may be relevant, ie credibility and propensity, this . .
CitedRegina v Aziz; Regina v Tosun; Regina v Yorganci HL 16-Jun-1995
The defendant (one of three) relied upon his part exculpatory statement made in interview and did not give evidence. The judge said that his good character was relevant as to his own propensity, and the character of the others was relevant to their . .

Cited by:

CitedGAI v Regina CACD 5-Oct-2012
The defendant’s appeal based on the absence of a good character direction had succeeded. The court now gave its reasons.
Held: After reviewing the authorities, the appeal succeeded: ‘the learned judge was wrong to find that the fact that . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 16 August 2022; Ref: scu.406611