The House considered the principle that the confession of a defendant is inadmissible in a joint criminal case against a co-defendant. In a trial for murder, one party was accused of requesting a middleman to arrange for the murder by a third party. The judge had directed that the jury could use the fact of the actual murderer’s conviction to support their consideration of the guilt of the middleman and the prime mover. The actual murderer’s guilt was proved by confession. The others objected that this amounted to conviction of them on the basis of the confession of the third.
Held: The appeals failed (by a majority). The value of joint trial was accepted subject to the protection of defendants. A voluntary out of court confession or admission against interest made by a defendant is an exception to the hearsay rule, and is admissible against him, but in a joint trial, the prosecution may not rely on what the maker of a confession said against a co-accused, and a trial judge must direct the jury to ignore a confession made by an accused in considering the case against a co-defendant. Some of the earlier cases on the topic would now be decided differently because of changes in the admissibility of hearsay evidence, and those case were no longer relevant. The rules against admission of such evidence should be relaxed.
Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Steyn, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Carswell, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
 UKHL 6, Times 07-Feb-2005,  1 WLR 605
House of Lords, Bailii
England and Wales
Cited – Regina v Lake CACD 1976
Subject to a judge’s discretion to order separate trials in the interests of justice, there are powerful public reasons why joint offences should be tried jointly. . .
Cited – Regina v Randall HL 18-Dec-2003
Two defendants accused of murder each sought to place blame for the victim’s death on the other. One sought to rely upon the other’s record of violence as evidence of his co-accused’s propensity to violence.
Held: The record was admissible. By . .
Appeal from – Regina v Hayter CACD 16-Apr-2003
The defendant appealed against his conviction for murder, on the basis that the jury had used a conclusion about the guilt of a jointly accused to support his own conviction.
Held: Section 74 had altered the law, and earlier cases were no . .
Cited – Regina v Rhodes 1959
Cited – Hollington v E Hewthorn and Co Ltd CA 1943
Decisions of an earlier tribunal were not binding or admissible in later proceedings where the earlier proceedings were before a court of criminal jurisdiction. Evidence of a prior conviction would not have been admissible in separate criminal . .
Cited – Regina v Spinks CACD 1982
Spinks was charged under section 4(1) of the 1967 Act, in that knowing or believing that a Mr Fairey had committed an arrestable offence, he acted with intent to impede his apprehension or prosecution. To prove that Fairey had committed an . .
Cited – Regina v Hickey, Hickey, Robinson, Molloy CACD 30-Jul-1997
The case concerned the production for the benefit of the defence, of the prison records of a prosecution witness who was putting forward an account of a cell confession. The Appeal Court is not concerned with the guilt or innocence of the appellant, . .
Cited – Lobban v The Queen PC 28-Apr-1995
(Jamaica) The judge had no discretion to exclude evidence on request of co-defendant in joint trial. The exculpatory part of co-accused statement not to be excluded since it was his right to have it put in. Those who are charged with an offence . .
Cited – HM Advocate v Kemp 1891
Cited – Montes v HM Advocate HCJ 1990
The appellant was convicted of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on the importation of cocaine by importing a quantity of cocaine on a ship which docked at Greenock. The trial judge directed the jury that, in . .
Cited – McIntosh v HM Advocate HCJ 1986
The appellant was convicted of supplying cannabis to a named individual at a house in Paisley. The appellant had acted with his co-accused Miss C who had made the actual supply. There was sufficient evidence against Miss C to prove that she had made . .
Cited – Rutherford v Richardson HL 1923
The decision of legal issues must depend on rigid rules of evidence necessarily general in their scope. It was very likely, therefore, in individual applications, to present an appearance of artificiality and even of inconsistency: ‘The issues . .
Cited – Myers v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1965
Limits to Admission of Hearsay Evidence
It was not for the House to alter the admissibility of hearsay evidence on a case by case basis.
Lord Reid said: ‘I have never taken a narrow view of the functions of this House as an appellate tribunal. The common law must be developed to . .
Cited – Regina v Blastland HL 1985
The majority decision of the House in Myers v DPP ‘established the principle, never since challenged, that it is for the legislature, not the judiciary, to create new exceptions to the hearsay rule.’ and ‘Hearsay evidence is not excluded because it . .
Cited – Teper v The Queen PC 1952
The defendant was charged with arson of his own shop. A woman had been heard to shout to a passing motorist ‘Your place burning and you going away from the fire’.
Held: the defendant’s alibi could not be contradicted by the evidence of a . .
Cited – Simmons and Another v Regina PC 3-Apr-2006
(Bahamas) The appellants challenged admission of confession statements at their trial. A statement was not to be admitted without proof hat it had not been obtained by oppression.
Held: The defendant would have failed in a submission of no . .
Cited – Persad v Trinidad and Tobago PC 23-Jul-2007
(Trinidad and Tobago) The Board considered the admissibility of out of court admissions as against co-defendants. Three defendants faced allegations of a series of violent crimes. The appellant said the only evidence against him for an offence of . .
Cited – Regina v Abdroikof, Regina v Green; Regina v Williamson HL 17-Oct-2007
The House was asked whether a jury in criminal trials containing variously a Crown Prosecution Service solicitor, or a police officer would have the appearance of bias. In Abdroikof, the presence of the police officer on the jury was discovered only . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 15 October 2021; Ref: scu.222206