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Brisbane QLD 4000
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Canberra ACT 2601
A man has been acquitted over serious sexual assault and assault charges and granted a “Suitors Fund” certificate, meaning the state will have to pay a large portion of his costs.
The man has spent some 34 days in custody before he was granted bail. After a 10 day trial he was acquitted. The judge described some of the evidence that was crucial in his defence as being “cogent and consistently objective” in the way they backed up his claim that the sex that allegedly constituted the sexual assault was in fact consensual, and described the Crown case as being “most unsatisfactory”.
The man had previously pled guilty to charges of damaging property and using a carriage service to menace or harass. The judge dismissed those charges without recording a conviction against him, noting not only the time he had spent in custody but also the considerable expense that he had been put to defending himself against charges that “should never have been brought”.
The certificate granted by the judge means that the defendant will be able to recoup a large portion of his costs. Such certificates are very rarely granted in criminal cases, and will only be considered in cases where, had the prosecution been in possession of all the relevant facts, it would not have been reasonable for to institute the proceedings.
This means that simply being acquitted, or proving that a Crown witness lied, will not usually be sufficient. Most defendants who are acquitted never recoup the costs of their defence, nor do they receive any compensation for the inconvenience of bail conditions or even time spent in custody awaiting trial.
In this way criminal proceedings are fundamentally different from civil proceedings, where the successful party would usually expect to receive an order that their costs be paid. It should in fairness also be noted that defendants who are convicted of the offences only are only extremely rarely required to pay the costs of their prosecution.
This case is, fortunately, a rare example of the authorities continuing to prosecute someone despite clear evidence that the prosecution should not continue.
Image Credit – Iakov Filimonov © 123RF.com
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