HMA v Richard Macpherson 2019

Mr MacPherson was found guilty of housebreaking and theft after a Trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court last year. He has failed in an appeal against conviction after arguing there was insufficient evidence to prove that he was at the crime scene. The appellant was sentenced to three and a half year’s imprisonment as a result. The appellant argued the Sheriff should have upheld the no case to answer submission lodged by his defence.

The appellant was witnessed with a bag that was later found inside the home in question where items of the occupier’s belongings had been stolen, and DNA evidence was given by an expert who stated the appellant’s DNA was on the handle of the recovered bag from inside the home. The appellant argued there could be innocent explanations for this. The appellant stated he had lost the bag on the bus and therefore it could not be linked with the crime, nor the appellant.

However, the appeal judges did not agree with the argument that there was insufficient evidence and refused the appeal. Lord Justice General stated when concluding the appeal: “The finding at the scene of a crime of an item, which is proved to belong to an accused or upon which the accused’s DNA or fingerprint has been left, is a piece of circumstantial evidence which links the accused to the item. It may link him to the scene and give rise to an inference that he was present at the material time. This in turn may lead to an inference that he committed the crime. Whether these inferences can be drawn from the circumstantial evidence ‘is the result of reason exercised upon the facts, or of reason and experience conjoined’. Lord Carloway continued: “It is a reasonable inference that the appellant had the bag with him from the point at which he left Vodafone until the time when, in an inebriated state, he forgot to take it with him along with the fruits of the housebreaking.“ The appeal was therefore refused.