Two men, Lewis Spence and Connor Steele appealed against their conviction for attempted murder. They argued that the trial was unfair as it was conducted remotely due to Covid measures that were in place at the time. Mr Spence additionally appealed against his sentence claiming that it was unduly excessive. 

The pair faced trial following an incident on the 15th September 2020. Mr Peter Martin was leaving a newsagents in Edinburgh when two cars stopped in front of him and 11 men in balaclavas jumped out. The appellants were seen on CCTV and dashcam footage.  

It was not disputed that the incident occurred however, the identification of the appellants by police officers was challenged in cross examination primarily on the basis that their identifications were the result of discussion amongst themselves and that they were mistaken.

The appeal also challenged the way the Advocate Depute conducted the trial. It was argued that it was improperly conducted and as such defence counsel repeatedly had to object to the crowns course of conduct. It was submitted on appeal that this could have given the jury the impression that the defence was attempting to conceal damaging evidence. It was also raised by the appellants that the remote proceedings meant that the jury has been unable to see the appellants while evidence was being led.

Lady Dorrian stated in delivering the opinion of the court “The suggestion that the jury did not have an adequate opportunity to view the appellants in the dock is not made out. The appellants were always visible on the quarter screen during the trial, including when all the CCTV footage was shown. They had several opportunities to see close ups of the appellants. They also had the opportunity to view the police interview video of Spence and the CCTV which was admittedly that of Steele at Western Harbour Midway.”

In each case, the appeal against conviction was refused. The appeal against sentence by Mr Spence was also refused.