PF v CB 2020

CB has had his appeal against conviction quashed after being found guilty of threating at abusive behaviour and of assault at the Sheriff Court. The appeal related to the assault charge. The appeal took place at the Sheriff Appeal Court where the appellant questioned the Sheriff’s assessment of a video on a mobile phone. At the appeal both the Crown and Defence agreed the sheriff has erred about what date the footage was captured and therefore he could not conclude the assault happened on this date. 

The question in dispute was whether the sheriff must have allowed parties to address him on his findings in relation to this video footage once this conclusion was reached by the sheriff. The Sheriff also did not inform the parties of his findings. The appellant argued there was a miscarriage of justice on not being allowed to do so. The Appeal Court agreed stating: “In such circumstances, the sheriff was not entitled to make the leap of logic which he did and conclude that because the first footage did not show events of 29 May 2018, it must depict events of 21 April 2018. That proposition had not been put to the complainer in evidence, and there was therefore no evidence to support the conclusion which the sheriff reached. 

Having rejected the evidence of the complainer as to the date of recording of the first piece of footage, that evidence ought simply to have played no further part in the sheriff’s deliberations, and certainly should not have been used to found an inference of any sort that the footage could relate only to 21 April 2018… It appears to us that the question should not be whether the sheriff erred in failing to allow parties to address him after concluding that the footage related to 21 April 2018, but whether he ought to have allowed parties to address him before reaching any conclusion on that matter.” They overall concluded the sheriff went “too far” and what had happened had amounted to a miscarriage of justice. However, this evidential footage in question was only in relation to the assault charge, which was quashed with the statutory breach of the peace charge still standing.