The High Court of Justiciary has permitted a new prosecution under the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act 2011 against a man who was acquitted in 2005 for the murder of his Mother.
Sean Tiffney was acquitted in 2005 at the High Court in Perth by a not proven verdict. Later, new physical evidence became available and the Crown sought to have the case retried. At the time of the trial his mother’s body had not been found and the Crown based their case on circumstantial evidence. 
However, in April 2017 skeletal remains were found in a wooded area in East Lothian. It was determined that the remains were Louise Tiffney. Samples of the soil and vegetation from the area were taken and it was considered that they were similar to the samples taken from the front wheel arch of Sean Tiffney’s car at the time of the original investigation. 
The Crown position was that the location of the remains was consistent with the evidence that was presented at the trial. The evidence had established a link between his vehicle and the site where the remains were found. 
As a result, Crown counsel submitted to the court that this evidence would allow a jury to conclude that there was a strong connection between the respondent’s vehicle and the site where the remains were found. At the first trial the fact of death was challenged. The Crown also relied upon the fact this crime was serious in nature and it was in the interests of justice to prosecute. 
Counsel on behalf of the respondent stated that whilst the evidence may not have been available at the original trial, the Crown had not led evidence to suggest the death occurred in 2002 or that the deceased was murdered. 
In delivering the opinion of the court, Lady Dorrian stated: “It is relevant to look at what were the weaknesses in the Crown case at trial. The most significant weakness by far related to the question whether Louise Tiffney was dead. A considerable portion of the defence speech was devoted to suggesting that the jury should not be quick to jump to the conclusion that she was dead.” 
Lady Dorrian continued: “It weakens the arguments advanced for the defence, and strengthens the circumstantial case advanced by the Crown. It plugs the gap created in the original trial by the absence of conclusive proof of death. Moreover, the location of the body is also capable of giving rise to the inference that suicide was not likely.” 
In conclusion: “We consider that the combination of evidence presents a compelling and persuasive case against the respondent such that a properly instructed jury, considering it all together, would have been likely to convict of the original offence.” 
As a result, the application was granted.