Drink-drive trial thrown out of court after delays in disclosure on defence

Ipswich Magistrates' Court Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Magistrates' Court Picture: ARCHANT

A specialist motoring lawyer has persuaded magistrates to throw out a Suffolk drink-driving case due to delays by the prosecution.

Barrister Philip Lucas told Suffolk Magistrates’ Court he was served initial disclosure by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) the day before his client was due to stand trial for drink-driving.

The defendant denied driving with 276 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood – the legal limit being 80mcg – in Sudbury on July 19 last year.

He first appeared in court to plead not guilty on December 18, when magistrates directed the prosecution to serve initial disclosure of any unused material, capable of undermining the crown’s case or assisting the defence, by the end of January.

Mr Lucas asked magistrates to dismiss the case against his client following non-disclosure of the material and a toxicology report.

He said the prosecution had failed to serve evidence logged by the police in the time requested at the earlier hearing.

Mr Lucas said initial disclosure was served the day before trial.

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“We were only given access to the blood sample on April 11,” he told the court.

“On April 15, we received a disclosure notice with a schedule of unused material, dated January 20.

“The bottom line is there’s no toxicology report or toxicologist.

“The only real issue in this case is the reliability of the blood sample, so it’s difficult to see how the crown could be effective.”

Prosecutor Josef Rybacki offered no evidence after first applying for an adjournment on grounds that the evidence would not degrade over time.

“Although there have been delays in the last few weeks, there has been movement to provide information to enable the defence to prepare a report,” he said.

Magistrates said they were aware of the seriousness of the allegation but were not prepared to grant an adjournment.

Mr Lucas applied for the defendant’s costs to be taxed from central funding.

The CPS said it was committed to building strong cases for prosecution and the effective delivery of justice, and was reviewing the case to establish what happened and ensure any appropriate lessons were learned.

A spokesman said: “It was established the prosecution had not provided material in a timely manner. We regret that, as a result, the case was stopped.”

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