HMA v David Martin

Mr Martin was recently acquitted of a speeding charge after a Justice of the Peace upheld a defence submission of “no case to answer.” The respondent was charged with driving at 81mph on a 60mph speed limit on the A9 towards Perth in May 2017. This was captured by the average speed cameras on this road. However, the Justice at the Trial Diet upheld a no case to answer submission by the defence solicitor as there was no corroboration of the measurement of the distance between the speed cameras, which captured the driver. Mr Martin was therefore acquitted. However, the Sheriff Appeal Court agreed with the Crown argument on appeal that it was in fact not necessary to corroborate this fact. The Crown relied on a case from 1914, Scott v Jameson 1914 SC(J) 187, in which four important facts were identified: the point of time the car entered the stretch of road, the time of exit, the length of carriageway and the identity of the car.

In Scott v Jameson, it was concluded that “each of these facts, important as each is, can be proved by one witness, if the tribunal trying the case considers that the evidence in quality is reliable”. Sheriff Principal Stephen said in delivering the appeal courts opinion: “The fundamental or essential facts which require to be proved are no different. In terms of Scott v Jameson which was affirmed by a full bench in Gillespie v Macmillan 1957 JC 31 there is no need to corroborate these four fundamental facts.” It was held that the Justice of the Peace should therefore proceed with the Trial at Perth. It was decided that this was a modern version of the 1914 case.