Kirkcaldy man loses appeal by stated case against leisure centre car crash conviction
A man who crashed his van into another vehicle in a leisure centre car park in Kirkcaldy has had his appeal by stated case refused by the Sheriff Appeal Court (Criminal Division).
Marcus Wishart was convicted in Kirkcaldy Justice of the Peace Court of contravening sections 170(2), 170(3) and 170(4) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. He argued that the CCTV evidence led by the Crown was deficient and could not result in a conviction.
The appeal was heard by Sheriff Principal Pyle, Appeal Sheriff Murphy, and Appeal Sheriff MacFadyen. The appellant was represented by Ms Hay, advocate, while Ms Edwards QC appeared for the Crown.
Did not contain all the information
The details of the accident were that the appellant’s vehicle had collided with another car in the car park at Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre while attempting to park there. The charges stemmed from the appellant’s failure to stop and give the necessary relevant information to any person with reasonable grounds for so requiring and having failed to do so to report the accident to the police.
There were no eyewitnesses to the accident. The Crown led in evidence three witnesses, namely the owner of the parked car, Ms Mayhew, and two police constables, as well as CCTV footage of the collision, for which a certificate establishing provenance was served on the appellant timeously as required under section 283 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. The appellant did not serve a counter-notice challenging the certificate on the Crown.
The certificate ran in the name of the duty manager, a Mr Segerius, responsible for the operation of the CCTV system, who certified the location and serial number of the camera. In a paragraph detailing the nature and extent of his responsibility for the system, he wrote “Alan Shields, Fife Council.”
During the trial diet, a submission of no case to answer was made by the appellant to the effect that the certificate was deficient in several respects. It was submitted that the certificate did not lay out all the information it was required to contain under section 283 of the 1995 Act and therefore did not prove the provenance of the CCTV footage.
The Crown opposed that submission, submitting to the Justice of the Peace that he should take the prosecution case at its highest. That included the evidence of all the witnesses and the CCTV evidence. The Justice repelled the submission of no case to answer, saying that the necessary details were contained in the certificate.
It was submitted on appeal that the Justice erred in repelling the submission of no case to answer. The nature and extent of the signatory’s responsibility had not been fully stated in the certificate. As such, the provenance of the CCTV disc had not been properly made out as routine evidence. In opposition, the Crown argued that the challenge to the footage had only been made after its case had concluded, with no objections made when the evidence was led, and in any event its authenticity was supported by the evidence of the witnesses.
Carelessly filled in
The opinion of the court was delivered by Appeal Sheriff MacFadyen. Addressing the timing of the appellant’s objection to the CCTV footage, he said: “Section 283(2) did not impose any responsibility on the party upon whom service was made intimating non-acceptance of the evidence in the certificate to draw attention to deficiencies in the certificate itself. However, that has no bearing on the correct procedure to follow in the trial itself.”
He continued: “In order to prevent the CCTV footage being viewed and considered by the court, objection should have been taken when the Crown attempted to show it and lodge as a production the section 283 certificate.”
Turning to the details of the certificate, he said: “While the nature and extent of Mr Segerius’s responsibility for the video surveillance system cannot be gleaned entirely from numbered paragraph II, the relevant information is described in the first paragraph of the certificate and in the words ‘Fife Council’ in paragraph II.”
He went on to say: “It seems that this document was carelessly filled in. However, if it is read as a whole, all of the necessary information required by section 283(1) is contained in it and it meets the requirements of that section sufficiently to amount to a certificate thereunder.”
Considering the evidence of the witnesses, Sheriff MacFadyen said: “That evidence from the witnesses established that the CCTV footage had been taken at the Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre Car Park, recognised by Ms Mayhew and taken on the date of her discovery of previously non-existent damage to her car, namely 14 September 2018.”
He concluded: “Even if the provenance of the CCTV images had not been established by the section 283 certificate, there was sufficient evidence thereof from the combination of the evidence of the witnesses Mayhew and Paterson.”
For these reasons, the appeal was held to have failed.
© Scottish Legal News Ltd 2021