HMA v Francis Cairney 2019

Mr Cairney’s appeal against conviction was found to be partially successful after it was discovered that the Crown had not disclosed the complainer’s criminal record in one of the charges. This charge, charge 8, was therefore quashed. Mr. Cairney received a custodial sentence for a series of historical sexual offences against children after being found guilty after trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court in December 2018.

The Appeal court agreed with the appellant’s argument that there was a miscarriage of justice because the fact the crown had not disclosed this complainers previous convictions – which were of dishonesty- could have had a “material bearing.” The Crown were fully aware of a number of statutory breach of the peace convictions of the complainers (WA) in charge 8 and a number of dishonestly convictions in England .It was noted on the system that this should be disclosed to Mr Cairney’s solicitor but for some reason unknown it never was. When the appellant specifically asked the crown about complainers convictions they were told that no complainer had any.

Lord Justice General stated: “It is noticeable that the jury’s verdict on charge 8 was by a majority, rather than, as with almost all of the other charges, unanimous. The defence appear to have made progress in the challenge to WA’s credibility on the basis that he was unsupported in his account of having been in the Celtic Boys Club team. The use of the previous convictions for dishonesty may have had a material bearing on the jury’s consideration of the complainer’s credibility on charge 8, with its unique features, albeit that it had many similarities to the accounts given by the other complainers. The court considers that the failure to disclose the convictions, which the Crown could have accessed quite easily, has resulted in a miscarriage of justice. It will accordingly quash the conviction on charge 8.” This charge was therefore quashed.