Steven Joseph James Stalley v. Her Majesty’s Advocate [2022] HCJAC 12


Note of appeal against conviction:- On 15 March 2021, at Glasgow High Court, the appellant was convicted after trial of 21 charges involving seven complainers relating to a variety of offences including breaches of the peace, stalking, assault, sexual assault and three rapes. In addition, in advance of the trial the appellant had pled guilty to seven further charges of stalking. Following his conviction and the obtaining of a Risk Assessment Report the appellant was made the subject of an Order for Lifelong Restriction with a 6 year punishment part imposed. The appellant appealed against his conviction on two grounds:- (1) the accuracy and adequacy of the trial judge’s directions on the application of mutual corroboration in circumstances in which he directed the jury to take the contents of the Advocate depute’s speech on that form of corroboration “into account” were criticised; and (2) that there was insufficient evidence on two charges of abduction/assault and assault (charges 19 and 20) there being no corroboration of them and the doctrine of mutual corroboration should not be applied. On behalf of the Crown it was conceded that it was the function of the trial judge to direct the jury on how mutual corroboration could apply in any given case and that the trial AD’s broad approach was not appropriate, however, no miscarriage of justice had occurred. It was further submitted that in relation to charges 19 and 20, both physical assaults, and corroboration was available from the evidence of other complainers who spoke to violent assaults upon them including the evidence of CL on charges 2 and 6 notwithstanding a time interval of round 9 years. Here the court refused the appeal. The court voiced some sympathy for the trial judge in light of the number and differing nature of the charges and the approach of the AD to the issue of mutual corroboration in the Crown speech. The court stated that it was for the trial judge to direct the jury on the doctrine of mutual corroboration and to ask the jury to take what the AD had said in his speech “into account” could result in confusion, particularly, in circumstances where what was said by the Crown was incorrect. The court reiterated what was said in Duthie v. HMA 2021 JC 207 that a combination of sexual and physical abuse by an accused within one family unit could, if the underlying similarities were present, afford mutual corroboration of a combination of sexual and physical abuse by the same accused in another family unit, however, the court was clear that an act which contained no sexual element could not corroborate a sexual assault or rape, with rape in addition requiring a distinct penetrative element. The court examined the circumstances present in the case and considered that the trial judge ought to have made it much clearer to the jury in relation to the particular charges, on which testimony was capable of mutually corroborating which other testimony on different charges and it was inappropriate to simply refer the jury to what the AD said in the Crown speech. The court considered that the trial judge had misdirected the jury by referring to the AD’s theory on controlling behaviour towards women, however, the court noted that the jury clearly belied the complainers and if they had been properly directed the jury would have been bound to find that there was corroboration of each offence, including charges 19 and 20 from the evidence relating to charges 2 and 6, and no miscarriage of justice had occurred.

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