The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the robbery conviction of Gracia Muakana to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Muakana appeared at Croydon Crown Court in August 2011 charged with robbery and handling stolen goods. He pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods but not guilty to robbery. He was convicted of both and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.
He tried to appeal against his conviction in 2012 but was refused leave to appeal. He applied to the Commission for a review of his case in February 2013.
Having conducted a detailed review of the case that Commission has decided to refer Mr Muakana’s robbery conviction to the Court of Appeal. The referral is made on the basis that the trial judge failed to give the jury appropriate directions in relation to Mr Muakana’s alibi and in relation to the “no comment” interview he gave to police.
The Commission considers that, in the specific circumstances of the case, the combined impact of these misdirections raises a real possibility that the Court of Appeal would regard Mr Muakana’s robbery conviction as being unsafe.
Mr Muakana was represented in his application to the Commission by Alex Pritchard-Jones of GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates, 21-22 Camberwell Green, London.
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail email@example.com
Notes for editors
1. The 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.
2. There are currently 12 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.
3. 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.
4. 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”.
5. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.