New Appeal: Is CCTV footage “available evidence” that can be put directly to a jury?

In this determination, Director of Public Prosecutions v Gruchacz, the Supreme Court granted Gruchacz leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal. Gruchacz is seeking clarification on: 1) whether CCTV footage is “available evidence” which can be put directly to a jury; and 2) whether s 16 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 permits a court to treat a witness as hostile where that witness stands over most of their previous statement.

 

Background

In April, 2016 a jury convicted Gruchacz of murder. At trial, the trial judge determined that CCTV footage of a person that the DPP asserted was Gruchacz was “available evidence” which could be put directly to the jury to decide for themselves whether it was Gruchacz in the images. Gruchacz claims that this was a departure from the decision of Barron J in DPP v Maguire [1995] 2 IR 286 regarding what is available evidence which can be put to a jury. Gruchacz argues that this prohibited him from challenging the evidence; that the CCTV footage should have been put to a witness known to him so that he could challenge their opinion on whether the images were of him.

Also, the trial judge permitted that a witness was characterised as hostile, where the witness stood over most of his previous statement but resiled from his identification of Gruchacz. Gruchacz argues that the law regarding s 16 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 is unclear.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Gruchacz’s appeal.

Granting leave for a further appeal, the Supreme Court determined that the case raises questions of law of general public importance which can arise in many trials.

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