BCL associate Umar Azmeh’s case comment on R v T  EWCA Crim. 108 has been published in the latest edition of the Criminal Law Review.
*Here is a short extract from the article:
T pleaded guilty in 1981 to 11 counts of arson with intent/recklessness, and 26 counts of manslaughter – on the grounds of diminished responsibility – relating to a number of fires between 1973 and 1979. He was sentenced to detention without limitation of time under the Mental Health Act 1959. In 1983, 11 counts of manslaughter were quashed by the Court of Appeal, and in 2019 the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the remaining 10 counts of arson and 15 counts of manslaughter to the Court under section 9 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. The grounds of appeal concerned fresh scientific evidence, breaches of the Judges’ Rules and the reliability of T and therefore his confessions. The key question in the appeal was the circumstances in which an appellant might appeal against convictions that came about following pleas of guilty. A heavyweight bench heard the appeal – Fulford VP, Hilliard J and Lord Hughes – and set down the first consolidated guidance as to the circumstances in which an appeal might be successful following a plea of guilty. The Court ruled that there were three categories of case in which an appeal might be successful notwithstanding a plea of guilty: (1) cases in which the guilty plea is vitiated for any number of reasons, (2) cases in which there is a legal obstacle to the defendant being tried, for example an abuse of process, and (3) cases in which the defendant is factually innocent. In the present case, (1) and (2) did not apply, but in relation to two of the fires, the Court was of the view that the appellant was factually innocent which resulted in three counts of manslaughter falling away. The appeal was therefore successful in part, but the sentence in relation to the other matters remained undisturbed.
*This article was first published by Thomson Reuters in March 2022. If you wish to read the full article, please visit Thomson Reuters Westlaw website.
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