The defendant absconded, and did not appear for his trial despite several listings. The trial proceeded in his absence entirely. After arrest, he appealed, saying that he had not had a fair trial.
Held: It was not suggested that he did not know of the need to appear at court, nor that the trial might proceed in his absence. There was no general difference in principle between continuing a trial in the absence of an absconded defendant, and commencing one. The discretion to commence a trial in his absence should, however, be exercised with the utmost care and caution. The Court of Appeal’s checklist was approved save that the seriousness of the offence should not be considered. The over-riding concern was fairness. Counsel should be encouraged to do what they could to represent an absent defendant.
Lord Bingham of Cornhill said that: ‘the discretion to commence a trial in the absence of a defendant should be exercised with the utmost care and caution.’ and ‘it is generally desirable that a defendant be represented even if he has voluntarily absconded.’
Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Nolan, < Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hutton and Lord Rodger of Earlsferry
Times 21-Feb-2002, Gazette 28-Mar-2002,  2 All ER 113,  UKHL 5,  1 AC 1,  2 WLR 524,  HRLR 23,  2 Cr App R 9, (2002) 166 JPN 431, (2002) 166 JP 333
House of Lords, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights
England and Wales
Confirmed – Regina v Jones, Planter and Pengelly 1991
Cited – Practice Direction (Bail: Failure to surrender and trials in absence) CACD 22-Jan-2004
The court, amending the earlier direction, gave detailed guidance on how prosecutors and courts should deal with trials where defendants had failed to surrender to bail. Defendants must be made aware of the damage caused by failures to surrender. . .
Cited – Lobban, Regina v CACD 7-May-2004
The defendant appealed his conviction. A witness statement had been read, but he had wanted to cross examine her. The court was satisfied that her refusal to give evidence in person was through fear.
Held: In making the decision, the judge had . .
Cited – Mariotti v Government of Italy and others Admn 2-Dec-2005
The extraditee had been convicted in his absence in Italy having fled to avoid the trial. He complained that the trial process had been unfair and the evidence against him weak.
Held: The court’s duty was not to investigate the evidential . .
Cited – Johnson, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions Admn 8-Dec-2005
The defendant sought judicial review of a decision by the magistrates to proceed with criminal charges against him in his absence. He suffered confirmed depression. There were several adjournments.
Held: ‘despite the unsatisfactory and indeed . .
Cited – Campbell v The Queen PC 30-Nov-2006
(The Bahamas) The Attorney General had appealed the sentence on the defendant for unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 14 as unduly lenient. His appeal was heard without the defendant’s presence, which was now said to have made the appeal . .
Cited – Morsby v Tower Bridge Magistrates’ Court Admn 31-Oct-2007
The claimant sought judicial review of the magistrates refusal to set aside a conviction entered in his absence. He had been in custody and not produced for the hearing.
Held: The review was granted. The judge had not established that the . .
Cited – James v Tower Bridge Magistrates’ Court Admn 9-Jun-2009
The claimant challenged the decisions of the magistrates first to convict him under the 1992 Act in his absence, and then to refuse to re-open the case. He had attended late on the trial date, after attending hospital overnight with his young . .
Cited – Norton v Bar Standards Board Admn 31-Jul-2014
The applicant had been called to the bar. He had represented that he had no criminal convictions and had three degrees . It was later suggested that neither representation was true. After failing to respond to enquiries, he was notified that a . .
Cited – TZ v General Medical Council Admn 17-Apr-2015
Appeal against decision of a Fitness to Practise Panel holding that the Appellant’s fitness to practise as a medical practitioner was impaired by reason of his misconduct. It directed that his name be erased from the Medical Register under section . .
Cited – Khan, Regina v CACD 21-Oct-2021
The applicant having been discharged of offences under the 1988 Act, the Court nevertheless imposed an order on him in his absence under the 1997 Act prohibiting him from contacting the complainant for a period of 10 years. He sought to appeal from . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Human Rights, Criminal Practice
Updated: 29 December 2021; Ref: scu.167641