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 policeman that he had heard the woman. The weakness of hearsay evidence is that its quality cannot be directly tested in court: ‘The truthfulness and accuracy of the person whose words are spoken by another witness cannot be tested by cross-examination and the light which his demeanour would throw on his testimony is lost.’ A statement admitted under the doctrine of res gestae with words which ‘if not absolutely contemporaneous with the action or event, [are] …. so closely associated with it, in time, place and circumstances, that they are part of the thing being done, and so an item or part of real evidence and not merely a reported statement’. However: ‘For identification purposes in a criminal trial the event with which the words sought to be proved must be so connected as to form part of the res gestae, is the commission of the crime itself . . . ‘
As to the rule that words may be proved when they form part of the res gestae, it appears to rest ‘ultimately on two propositions, that human utterance is both a fact and a means of communication, and that human action may be so interwoven with words that the significance of the action cannot be understood without the correlative words, and the dissociation of the words from the action would impede the discovery of truth. But the judicial application of these two propositions, which do not always combine harmoniously, has never been precisely formulated in a general principle.’
 AC 480
Cited – Regina v Gibson 1887
Evidence had been wrongly admitted. Lord Coleridge CJ said: ‘It is clear that a verdict so obtained in a civil case would not formerly have been allowed to stand, because until the passing of the Judicature Acts the rule was that if any bit of . .
Cited – Regina v Hayter HL 3-Feb-2005
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. . .
Approved – Regina v Kearley HL 3-Jun-1992
Telephone calls which were made to the defendant’s phone asking for drugs, but made after the arrest of the defendant for supplying drugs were inadmissible as hearsay. They were adduced to prove, by implication, the fact that he, as an occupier of . .
Cited – Grant v The Queen PC 16-Jan-2006
(Jamaica) The defendant appealed his conviction for murder saying that the admission of an unsworn statement by one witness and the non-admission of another similar statement who did not either attend court was unconstitutional. He shot the victim . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 28 November 2021; Ref: scu.222549