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Criminal Damage Client Found Not Guilty


Julia Coffin of Forrest Williams

Julia Coffin of Forrest Williams


Criminal Damage Client Found Not Guilty
by Julia Coffin, paralegal


Another fantastic result for the Forrest Williams team this week, and an outstanding outcome for a very agitated and upset client.


We were in court this week for the trial of our client Chris in his matter of Criminal Damage.  The allegation was that he had damaged his neighbour’s car by kicking it during a dispute over parking.


Although this incident occurred in January, Chris only called me two weeks before his trial date and he was understandably very upset and in a panic. He had instructed another solicitor for the first hearing back in March and to do the trial preparation but had just come out of a meeting with them and could not see what work had been done to move his matter forward.  He felt they were still in the same place as they were after the first hearing and here he was, two weeks away from trial and a possible criminal record, with no idea of how the case would be handled and with no confidence in his solicitors.


I listened to his story very carefully and quickly realised that the only realistic thing I could do to help him at this late stage was to suggest that we take over the case for him.


I also knew that this meant contacting the prosecution service for the full file of papers, assessing the strength of the evidence against him, contacting the previous solicitors for their file….all things that take time and we were already close to trial date.  Oh…and I had to ask him for money as well, and here was a client with an already low opinion of solicitors due to his previous experience, and who had already paid a solicitor to sit on his file and do nothing. Not always an easy conversation to have with someone!


To be honest he didn’t take a lot of convincing.  Despite his bad experience with the other law firm, he felt reassured that we would take over and do a good job for him and he would finally see some progress.


The following week was a frustrating lack of material progress with four false starts trying to get the client’s statement due to his unpredictable working pattern.  At Forrest Williams, our case management is very client focused and often, the client statement is vital as it draws out information that gives us ideas and information of which way to run a case.   We finally got his statement and realised we had a potential witness so had to spend time contacting the witness and taking her statement.


Two days before trial Chris was calling us demanding to know what the action plan was to be in court, and very agitated about the parking issues that are an ongoing issue for him.


I had to be quite firm with him, to reassure him that everything was in hand.  We had been working very hard on his case and we had all the information we needed at that point.  I managed to convince him that there were absolutely no issues and whilst he was clearly very anxious, there was no need for him to worry about what we were doing, as everything was in order.  This seemed to calm him and we were back on track.


During our “day before hearing” telephone call where we discussed the court process, I explained to Chris that the issue at hand was one of Criminal Damage, although the basis of almost every conversation we’d had was about the parking issue.  I gently advised Chris that if he took his frustration over the parking problems into court with him then he would be giving the prosecution a motive for the alleged behaviour, and that he really needed to moderate his language and behaviour, and also to forget the parking issue and focus on the Criminal Damage. He took my advice very well and was very understanding.


This is a common thing.  Most clients are charged with an offence that is only part of a very large story of what is happening in their life, and they want to make the Court aware of everything when, often, the Court is focused on what can seem to be a tiny point of law.  We realise how important it is that clients understand exactly what the issues in their case are from a legal point, so that they can be fully prepared for the court room experience.


The result was that in Court, Chris gave a very credible account of himself, was calm throughout and stuck to his statement without veering off to discuss the parking issue, which despite being very important to Chris was irrelevant and actually unhelpful in a legal sense.  His witness did the same.  The complainant, however, clearly hadn’t been briefed very well and gave a very theatrical performance on the stand, which undermined his statement and his case.


The result was a not guilty verdict, meaning a win for our extremely grateful client and for the Forrest Williams team.  Chris will now be able to apply for a portion of his legal fees to be refunded to him by the Court.





Not Guilty Verdict For Criminal Damage Case



My client is a young man that had been involved in an altercation with a group of youths and charged with Criminal Damage. His mother called me shortly before Christmas extremely frustrated at the lack of progress she was experiencing from the Legal Aid Solicitor they had been working with up until that point. Of course I reassured her that we could help her son, and we took over the case.


Our client is a young man of good character with no previous convictions, he is a student with excellent grades and offers from three Universities to study Business. He was chosen to be peer support at school as well as Captain of the School Sports Team, Rugby Team and a Prefect.


The client had been travelling in a cab with five friends and an incident occurred whereby the cab driver was assaulted by one of the group and a window was broken by another. My client was identified as being present at the scene and subsequently charged with Criminal Damage.


When I interviewed the client on the telephone he came across as a very polite young man, and I couldn’t reconcile the idea of the person I was speaking to causing criminal damage in a fit of youthful exuberance – he just didn’t come across that way to me.


When I reviewed the file, the evidence against him was extremely thin, it appeared that he had been singled out as he had been positively identified as being present, which he had never disputed, however he had not been involved in the fracas and was merely present.


We approached the CPS and asked them to review the case due to a lack of evidence, which was denied and the matter proceeded to trial.


Our client was represented by one of our experienced Barristers from our London Chambers and we secured a verdict of Not Guilty – which wasn’t entirely surprising given the very weak case against him.


The Barrister’s account of the courtroom proceedings was that the prosecutor approached the case as if it were a murder trial, shouting at our client – who is only 18 years old – and being selective in the evidence she presented, deliberately withholding parts of the evidence that would undermine their case and assist our defence case. The prosecutor was described as being horrible and unprofessional and the family are considering lodging a formal complaint about her conduct and behaviour.


We secured an excellent and well deserved result for our client, a young man who no longer faces the possibility of a criminal record for something he wasn’t involved with.


We stayed in constant contact with our client’s parents at all stages throughout the case preparations and lead up to the trial, reassuring them at every point as they were very worried about their son and what might happen. I received a text from them after the trial ended saying that they couldn’t thank me enough, and that the Barrister was fantastic!


If you are being charged with, or investigated for, criminal damage, call me now for a free initial consultation on 01623 397200.


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