This appeal raises an issue about whether the trial judge was entitled to continue a trial in circumstances where a prosecution witness, aged 16 years who had been diagnosed with ADHD, who had given evidence in chief and who had been cross-examined in part on behalf of one appellant, became distressed and refused to continue to give evidence.
In our judgment the trial judge was entitled to continue the trial of RT and Mr Stuchfield even though Ms F was not available for the whole of the cross examination on behalf of Mr Stuchfield and there was no cross examination on behalf of RT. This was because the trial remained fair for both RT and Mr Stuchfield in the particular circumstances of this case. The relevant circumstances included the facts that first the jury had seen Ms F give evidence and be cross examined at least in part. Secondly there was some unfortunate questioning of Ms F which explained her refusal to stay for the whole of the cross examination, although we make it clear that the trial judge found that this questioning was not carried out deliberately to provoke the witness, and counsel for RT did not have the opportunity to carry out any questioning. Thirdly there was material which was admitted, including the Facebook messages, which enabled the jury to make a fair assessment of the credibility and reliability of Ms F's evidence. Fourthly Ms F's evidence could be assessed in the context of the other evidence which included: DNA evidence against RT; evidence about earlier social media conversations about a plan to commit a robbery; CCTV evidence showing the movements of RT and Mr Stuchfield; and Mr Stuchfield's letter sent after the offence. Fifthly the judge gave proper directions to the jury identifying the limitations of Ms F's evidence.