HMA v Ricky Taylor 2019

The Crown has now won an appeal at the High Court of Judiciary after a man’s conviction for exposing himself in public was partially successful at the Sheriff Appeal Court. Mr Taylor was found guilty of repeatedly masturbating in sight of his neighbour, a contravention of section 5 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act.

The Sheriff Appeal Court took the view that only one of the incidents was corroborated and therefore his sentence was greatly reduced. It argued that only one of the incidents was corroborated because only one incident was discussed with the neighbour’s partner. However, Mr Taylor has now had his original conviction restored as the High Court did not agree with this view and believed the Sheriff Appeal Court had erred. The Sheriff Appeal Court took the view that each of the incidents, of which there were 4, required to be corroborated.

The Crown appealed to the High court on the basis that there was was sufficient evidence to corroborate all of the charges and the accused should have been found guilty as libelled on the complaint. The Crown argued that the Sheriff Appeal court were not correct in concluding that the conduct spoken to by the neighbour of the appellant could only constitute a single course of conduct and that the evidence by the partner in relation to the last incidents could provide the corroboration for all the incidents.

The High court allowed the appeal and concluded that the original trial sheriff has not erred and he was authorised to convict the appellant of all of the charges. Lord Glennie concluded at the High Court: “In so far as the Sheriff Appeal Court took the view that simply because the separate incidents of criminal behaviour in this case were libelled in one single composite charge, therefore there was no room for the application of the Moorov principle, we disagree.” He continued: “The principle of mutual corroboration does not depend to any extent upon whether the separate incidents on which reliance is placed are charged in separate charges or in one single composite charge.

The principle remains the same, namely that if such incidents share the conventional similarities in time, place and character of commission such that they can properly be said to form part of a single course of criminal conduct persisted in by the accused, evidence given in relation to one such incident can be used to corroborate evidence given in relation to others; and that is so regardless of whether the incidents are charged in one charge or in several.” The case was thereafter concluded to a further date to consider the affect this decision will have on Mr Taylor’s sentence.