HMA v RM 2020

An appellant, RM, has had his appeal against a sheriff’s decision not to allow him to lead certain evidence refused. The man who was charged with sexual offences against his partner and son sought to allow his defence team to lead evidence at trial that the mother of his children had been asking the children to make false allegations against their father and also of other people. The two charges were against the children’s mother and one of the children.

The sheriff refused such evidence to be led stating it was ‘collateral’. The appeal court agreed. The appellant has stated that this evidence should be allowed to be led as the children were induced to make false accusations and this was established at a children’s referral proof at Ayr Sheriff Court and this was relevant to the proceedings. These false allegations were said to be against teaching staff and their father. The appellant argued that the sheriff had erred and that such evidence would be admissible.

However, the appeal court stated the sheriff in fact was correct not to allow such evidence to be led. Lord Justice Clerk said: “In our view it is apparent even from the brief terms of paras 1,2, and 6 as noted above that they raise collateral issues… In the present case to allow the evidence would move the focus from the evidence relating to the charges against the appellant onto alleged behaviour on the part of B which is not clearly specified, is disputed, and would involve derailing the trial on a side issue. It is precisely the kind of evidence which is excluded for reasons of convenience and expediency. The further one explored the nature of the allegations, and the way in which the matter was to be presented, the more apparent it became that the material in question was collateral.” The appeal was therefore refused.