Commission refers drink driving conviction of William Smith to the County Court of Northern Ireland

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the drink driving conviction of William Smith to the County Court in Northern Ireland.

Mr Smith was convicted in his absence at Belfast Magistrates Court in June 2011 in relation to a drink driving offence committed in July 2005. He was fined £400 and banned from driving for 12 months.

Mr Smith was arrested on a money warrant on New Year’s Eve 2011 due to non-payment of the fine and was taken directly to prison where he spent six days.

Shortly after his release Mr Smith tried to appeal against his conviction but his application for appeal was rejected. He applied to the CCRC in March 2015.

Having reviewed the case in detail, the Commission has decided to refer Mr Smith’s drink driving conviction for appeal because it considers there is a real possibility that the Court will quash the conviction. The referral is based on new evidence that Mr Smith, who has never held a full driving licence, was not in the car stopped by police and was not the person who failed the breathalyser test in July 2005, and that another identified individual was driving the car at the time.

Mr Smith was represented in his application to the CCRC by  Patricia Coyle of Harte Coyle Solicitors Ground Floor, The Sturgeon Building 9-15 Queen Street, Belfast, BT1 6EA.

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail press@ccrc.gov.uk 

Notes for editors

  1. The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently 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.
  1. There are currently 10 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.
  1. The Commission usually receives around 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year.  Typically, around 3.5%, or one in 29, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.
  1. 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”.
  1. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.

More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter using @ccrcupdate