Defendant’s death stops trial immediately
At his trial for serious sexual offences, the jury passed a note to the judge saying that they had reached unanimous verdicts on several counts. The judge did not pass the note to counsel, but instead asked the jury to retire overnight to try again on the following day. Overnight, the defendant committed suicide, but after discussions with counsel, he asked the jury to return such unanimous verdicts as they had. The defendant’s mother now asked to find the verdicts, a nullty being as against a deceased person.
Held: The applicant was entitled to her declaration. The judge had no power to act as he had: ‘Quite apart from the fact that there is no statutory or common law authority which justifies the way in which the judge proceeded in this case, these questions all lead to the conclusion that in order to preserve the bright line that criminal prosecutions are not pursued against those who have died, there is no discretion as to the course of action then to be taken. As soon as a judge learns that a defendant has died, it is his duty to take no further step in the case against that defendant save for receiving proof of death whereupon the indictment as far as it concerns that defendant must be declared of no effect. For the avoidance of doubt, that is not to say that the indictment cannot proceed against other defendants depending, of course, on all the circumstances.’
Sir Brian Leveson P QBD, Jay, Garnham JJ
 EWCA Crim 391,  WLR(D) 250
Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 1(1)
England and Wales
Cited – Regina v Robinson CACD 1974
Verdicts of a jury must be delivered in open court . .
Cited – Regina v Drew CACD 1985
The court considered when a judge should allow a defendant to withdraw a plea of guilty: ‘only rarely would it be appropriate for the trial judge to exercise his undoubted discretion in favour of an accused person wishing to change an unequivocal . .
Cited – Regina v Gorman CACD 1987
Lord Lane CJ said: ‘ . . certain propositions can now be set out as to what should be done by a judge who receives a communication from a jury which has retired to considered its verdict.
First of all, if the communication raises something . .
Cited – ex parte Guardian Newspapers Ltd CACD 30-Sep-1998
The defendants purported to serve a notice under Rule 24A(1) of the Crown Court Rules 1982 of an intention to apply for a hearing in camera of their application that the trial be stopped as an abuse of process.
Held: Where an application was . .
Cited – Regina v Jefferies 1968
The appellant died pending his appeal being heard and his widow wished to pursue a challenge to the order for payment of prosecution costs.
Held: The powers of the court were derived from statute and did not permit such a course.
Widgery . .
Cited – Regina v Kearley (Dec, by his Agent Brian Sharman) (Number 2) HL 21-Jul-1994
An appeal lapses with the death of the appellant even though others may be affected. A statutory right of appeal is a personal right and does not survive the applicant.
Rights of appeal die with appellant even after remission by House of Lords. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.581943