Pub as­sault: For­mer ma­rine walks free after CPS fail­ings

Surrey Advertiser - - Front Page -

A JUDGE has blasted the Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice (CPS) for fail­ing to pro­duce a key wit­ness in the trial of a for­mer Royal Ma­rine, who walked free from court after al­legedly knock­ing out a land­scape gar­dener.

Sa­muel Grif­fin, 32, of Cedar Way, Guild­ford, punched David Miller up to four times in the head dur­ing a drunken row out­side a Guild­ford pub, a court heard.

Mr Grif­fin ad­mit­ted hit­ting the vic­tim but claimed he was act­ing in self-de­fence in his charge of griev­ous bod­ily harm. How­ever, after a wit­ness failed to co-op­er­ate with the CPS, Mr Grif­fin’s trial col­lapsed on Tues­day.

The case was de­pen­dent on one wit­ness, who told the po­lice she saw the in­ci­dent at The Row­barge on Oc­to­ber 7 last year, which left Mr Miller un­con­scious.

But the wit­ness re­fused to give ev­i­dence in court and the judge, Mr Recorder David Jeremy, re­jected a pros­e­cu­tion ap­pli­ca­tion to ad­journ to a later date be­cause of the CPS fail­ures.

The wit­ness first in­di­cated she did not want to give ev­i­dence mid-July due to the death of her brother, the judge said. How­ever, the Old Bai­ley heard how the CPS took no ac­tion un­til the day of the trial, when it is­sued a wit­ness sum­mons.

“This is a se­ri­ous fail­ing,” said the judge. “It [the CPS] has failed to carry out the most ba­sic steps of trial prepa­ra­tion, en­sur­ing wit­nesses at­tend in cir­cum­stances where the wit­ness had men­tioned re­luc­tance.

“The Crown sim­ply has done noth­ing. It hasn’t even been able to ex­plain what hap­pened fol­low­ing the con­ver­sa­tion [with the wit­ness] in mid-July, other than to say the lawyer was on hol­i­day.

“This is a case that de­pends on the rec­ol­lec­tion of the wit­ness. De­lay sim­ply brings the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem into dis­re­pute, par­tic­u­larly when the de­lay has been con­trib­uted to by the fail­ures of the pros­e­cu­tion.”

The judge added: “Balanc­ing the fac­tors, I refuse the ap­pli­ca­tion to ad­journ this case, know­ing, as I do, the pros­e­cu­tion will be forced to of­fer no ev­i­dence.

“The per­son most af­fected is Mr Miller and I or­der the pros­e­cu­tion to ob­tain a tran­script of this rul­ing and pro­vide that to him so he can know why his case is not go­ing to be tried and he can take steps to hold the CPS to ac­count for what has hap­pened.”

Mr Grif­fin was for­mally ac­quit­ted of his charge and left the court.

The judge, who then in­vited the vic­tim into court, said: “Your case de­pended on the ev­i­dence of a wit­ness. She is un­able to give ev­i­dence. That may not be her fault at all. She is clearly a woman who has had dif­fi­cul­ties and is not able to give ev­i­dence.

“The dif­fi­cul­ties she has faced have been made worse by the fail­ings of the pros­e­cu­tion. They could have done much more to give a rea­son­able pos­si­bil­ity of that wit­ness giv­ing her ev­i­dence.

“I have had to stop the case. If you wish to take fur­ther steps or put the whole mat­ter be­hind you, that is a mat­ter for you.”

The court heard Mr Miller had been drink­ing at the pub in River­side with col­leagues and that trou­ble started when one of Mr Grif­fin’s friends ‘shoul­der-barged’ Mr Miller as the vic­tim re­turned from the toi­let.

Later, Mr Miller was out­side when the friend of Mr Grif­fin swung a punch at him and threat­ened to ‘do him on his way home’, the court heard. The pub’s man­ager in­ter­vened and told Mr Grif­fin and his friend to leave.

Mr Miller says he can­not re­mem­ber any­thing of what hap­pened after he left the pub that night un­til he woke the next morn­ing in hos­pi­tal.

The wit­ness told po­lice she saw a 6ft 3 man grab Mr Miller and punch him four times with full force in the head. Mr Miller fell to the ground and hit his head on the pave­ment. He suf­fered a brain haem­or­rhage in three places and was kept in hos­pi­tal for ob­ser­va­tion.

Pros­e­cu­tor Jonathan Rosen told the court: “He has de­vel­oped a stam­mer and a slight twitch as a re­sult of his in­juries.”

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