Alexander Garland v HMA [2020] HCJAC 46

The appellant was convicted of sexual assault of an 11 year old girl on the 6th of December 2019 and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment – 3 months of which was attributed to a bail aggravation. The appellant appealed on the basis that there was insufficient evidence to convict him. The crown case was based on the evidence of the complainer as well as letters that the appellant had written to his ex-partner, the complainer’s mother.

In one of the letters to the complainer’s mother, the appellant wrote:

“[K] touched me on couch and I told her it was wrong then she acted daft as if she didn’t know but clearly did I then explained to her why it was wrong then she hit me in my privates I then screamed and shouted at her she then went to her room and I sat and watched Ireland’s got talent then I went into her room and tried to speak to her but she was screaming get out … for weeks before that she was climbing on top of me for cuddles.”

The evidence of the complainer was that the appellant has been “like rubbing into my back bum” and “making me touch him on his private parts” when she was laying down on her mother’s bed.

The appellant appealed on the basis that the judge erred in his direction to the jury that the content of the letters could be interpreted as an admission and therefore provide corroboration. The trial judge had stated that “whether there was any admission is a matter for you [the jury]”.

On appeal, the court determined that whilst it was unfortunate that the crown did not state clearer what they were relying on for corroborating the complainer’s statement, and that it was also unfortunate that the trial judge did not give the jury a direction as to where corroboration may have been found, the facts and circumstances surrounding the case were sufficient enough for the jury to consider the charge corroborated. Therefore the appeal was refused.