HMA v Marc Hanley 2018

Mr Hanley has had his appeal against conviction rejected after being found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice. The appellant was indicted on two charges of murder and one of attempting to pervert the course of justice in Edinburgh High Court. The appellant appealed against his conviction after being found guilty of the later charge and stated that the conduct was not relevant for a charge of perverting the course of justice, but the appeal court disagreed.

Mr Hanley was found guilty of phoning friends while on remand in prison for the murder charge in order to bribe witnesses, by giving them drugs or money, not to identify him at an arranged identification parade. As a result of being found guilty of this charge the appellant was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

The appellant argued, firstly, to the trial judge then to the appeal court that the charge relating to perverting the course of justice did not relate to this offence and that in any event there was “insufficient evidence” to prove this offence. The Trial judge concluded that the libel was relevant stating that it had “clear specification that the appellant attempted to eliminate evidence which might tend to incriminate him in a future criminal charge”. The appellant, however, stated this charge was irrelevant and the charge on the libel did not actually aver that steps were actually taken on the appellants instructions to his friends and therefore the charge should not stand.

The Crown stated the actus reus was present however and therefore the charge he was found guilty of should stand. The Appeal Court agreed and the appeal was refused. Lord Justice Clerk stated in refusing the appeal: “That there may be more than one way relevant to aver a crime contrary to the course of justice thus it appears from the examples cited. In all cases, the essence of the charge is the interference with what would otherwise be expected to have come to pass in the ordinary and uninterrupted course of justice in the particular case.” The appeal judges were also of the view there was sufficient evidence to uphold this conviction.