Anastasia Qvist is an outstanding lawyer. My criminal law situation (family violence order) was difficult, complex and Ana's diligence saved me as I was going through the most difficult period of my life. Ana is down to earth, commonsense and she even kept our costs to a minimum. She is a skilled litigator and knows the ins and outs of the ACT Magistrates Court. She dealt skillfully with the DPP and is an excellent negotiator. You will get a fair representation and she genuinely cares about her clients. She has my complete recommendation. The lady goes to bat for her clients.
I would strongly recommend Anastasia to anyone who is seeking legal representation. As a first-time offender who was charged with a Level 2 Drink Driving offence, she walked me through every step of the matter and was very upfront and clear on all aspects of my case. She was always accessible when I needed advice. Her approach and advice were excellent. Under her representation, I received the best possible outcome and managed to avoid a criminal conviction. She was a pleasure to deal with throughout the whole matter.
Anastasia Qvist was very professional and helpful in every step of my matter. I got a very good outcome and I can’t thank you enough for your hard work and the Armstrong Legal team in Canberra. I would highly recommend her!!!
Throughout Angela has been the consummate professional. She maintained a calm, yet strong demeanour remained informative and completely open in her communication and took complete ownership of the situation. We felt confident we finally had an advocate to steer us out of the nightmare we were in, and she did so with great respect and sincerity. I cannot speak more highly of Angela. She has literally rescued our family from what looked very much like a hopeless future.
Words can’t describe how grateful I am to Trudie Cameron being my solicitor and to Andrew Tiedt presenting my case in the court. They both have been very supportive and amazingly professional and effective. I’ve got an absolutely fantastic outcome I couldn’t even dream about.
Soon after meeting Andrew I knew he was the solicitor I wanted to handle my matter. He immediately sprang into action which brought me stability and hope during a tumultuous time in my life. Andrew was never afraid to give me straight answers to my tough questions which is a true mark of integrity. He is clearly at ease in the court environment and I believe his calm and measured demeanour went a long way to helping me secure the best result from my day in court. I would certainly recommend you approach Andrew if you need assistance.
"Andrew Tiedt was very professional and considerate to personal circumstances and gave sound advice that resulted in the best outcome possible. Highly recommended."
The Problems With Identification Evidence
Identification evidence is evidence given by a witness that the accused is, or resembles, the person who committed the offence they have been charged with. Identification evidence that is given by a person who does not know the defendant is often said to be unreliable. This has been strongly reinforced by a July 2020 decision of ACT Chief Justice Helen Murrell, (reversing a decision of Acting Chief Magistrate Glenn Theakston). That case involved charges of dangerous driving, drug-driving and dishonestly taking a motor vehicle. It also involved the supposed “100 per cent” certainty of a police witness about the identity of the offender.
Gooda v Burrows
The issue in the 2020 matter of Gooda v Burrows was whether the accused gentleman was the driver at the relevant time.Magistrate Theakston declared that he was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the man was the driver. However, Chief Justice Murrell, thought differently, noting many factors that would have made correct identification difficult.
These factors included that:
- There were three people in the vehicle;
- The policeman had not clearly seen who was driving before the vehicle was stopped;
- The three people exited the vehicle simultaneously, one from the driver’s door, and one each from the back doors;
- It was dark;
- The policeman did not write a description in his notebook of the male he said had exited the driver’s door;
- The accused gentleman and a woman were apprehended. The third person, another male, was not;
- Fingerprints matching the accused were found in the back of the car;
- Fingerprints matching the woman were found on the rear-vision mirror;
- DNA matching the woman was found on the driver’s controls;
- CCTV footage suggested the woman may have been driving the vehicle 40 minutes before it was stopped;
Factors to consider when assessing identification evidence
The Chief Justice noted that the Evidence Act itself specifies in numerous places that identification evidence is “of a kind that may be unreliable”. Her Honour also noted that the leading academic text writer on evidence, Stephen Odgers, SC, has found several factors that need to be considered when looking at identification evidence, including:
(a) Whether the witness had any prior familiarity with the subject;
(b) That if a subject is from a different racial group to the witness, this may reduce the value of the witness’ identification evidence;
(c) The circumstances of the perception, including the period of perception, the type of attention, the distance from the subject, the lighting conditions and any stress experienced by the observer;
(d) The procedures adopted in relation to identification and whether they suggest, explicitly or implicitly, that the subject is the offender; and
(e) Any risk of “displacement” of perception, e.g. by being told certain things or being shown certain things.
The Chief Justice’s findings
The Chief Justice found that the policeman had no prior familiarity with the accused; that the accused was Aboriginal and the policeman was presumably Caucasian; that the “period of perception was an instant” and that the policeman’s focus would have been split between the three people; and that the lighting was “not ideal”.
It is not clear whether there was a risk of displacement, with the Chief Justice saying it might be relevant that the accused was the only male who was apprehended.
In conclusion, Her Honour found, “The combination of the above considerations, but particularly the brevity of the observation of a person of whom [the policeman] had no prior knowledge, and the obvious opportunity for there to be confusion between the two persons who exited the right side of the vehicle (one of whom was [the woman], a person who had very shortly beforehand been the driver of the vehicle) creates a reasonable doubt about the appellant’s guilt.
Her Honour allowed the appeal, setting aside the verdicts of guilty and substituting verdicts of not guilty.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.
WHY CHOOSE ARMSTRONG LEGAL?
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