CCRC refers the conviction of X to the Court of Appeal

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the 2005 convictions of Mr X to the Court of Appeal.

Mr X pleaded not guilty to charges of indecent assault, attempted rape and rape but was convicted and sentenced to a total of 11 years’ imprisonment.

Mr X tried to appeal against his conviction in 2005 but was refused leave to appeal. He applied to the Commission in 2008.

Having reviewed the case in detail, the Commission has decided to refer Mr X’s conviction to the Court of Appeal because it considers that fresh medical evidence, which raises doubts about the reliability of medical evidence heard at trial, raises a real possibility that the court would decide to quash the conviction as unsafeThis press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 233 0906 or e-mail press@ccrc.gov.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS

In 2008 the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) published The Physical Signs of Child Sexual Abuse. This book revised the 1997 Royal College of Physicians publication ‘Physical Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children’. The new publication, produced by the RCPCH in collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians of London and its Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, revised guidance about the extent to which certain physical signs should be considered diagnostic of abuse in light of the development of scientific understanding of the signs of physical abuse in children. The Commission has considered several cases where this development in understanding appears capable of undermining the reliability of the medical evidence heard at trial and concluded that, in the specific circumstances of each of the cases concerned, this raises a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld if it referred the case for appeal.

The Commission has replaced the applicants name with the letter X in order to protect the identity of individuals involved in the case. The letter should not be taken as an initial – where the Commission decides to anonymise a case, it does so by choosing the next letter in the alphabet following on from the last anonymised referral. When it hears the case, the Court of Appeal will make its own decision about if/how to anonymise the case.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.

There are nine Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.

The Commission receives around 1,000 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Typically, around 4%, or one in 25, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.

The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.

If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.