Pub assault: Former marine walks free after CPS failings
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.”