Tuesday Law Report: Confession Admissible against Co-Defendant in Joint Trial ; 8 February 2005 Regina V Hayter ([2005] UKHL 6) House of Lords (Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Steyn, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Carswell and Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood) 3 February 2005

Article excerpt

IN A joint trial of two or more defendants for a joint offence a jury was entitled to consider first the case in respect of one defendant, which was solely based on his own out of court admissions, and then to use their findings of his guilt and the role he had played as a fact to be used evidentially in respect of a co- defendant.

The House of Lords (Lord Rodger of Earlsferry and Lord Carswell dissenting) dismissed the appeal of Paul Hayter against the Court of Appeal's decision to dismiss his appeal against his conviction of murder.

Mr Hayter and two co- defendants were charged with murder, all three having been indicted as principals. The prosecution case was that the first defendant had arranged for the contract killing of her husband through Mr Hayter (the second defendant), and that he had engaged and paid the third defendant, who had actually shot the victim.

The evidence against the first defendant came from a number of sources and was cogent. The evidence against the third defendant was solely based on a confession which he had allegedly made to his girlfriend. The judge invited the jury to consider in logical phases the cases against the third defendant, the first defendant, and finally Mr Hayter.

He directed the jury that, only if they found both the third and first defendants guilty of murder, would it be open to them, taking into account those findings of guilt, together with other evidence against Mr Hayter, to convict him. The jury convicted all three defendants. Mr Hayter's appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal, and he appealed.

John Kelsey-Fry QC (Ziades) for the appellant; Mark Dennis and Robin McCoubrey (Crown Prosecution Service) for the Crown.

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood said that in a joint trial of two or more defendants for a joint offence a jury was entitled to consider first the case in respect of defendant A, which was solely based on his own out of court admissions, and then to use their findings of A's guilt and the role A had played as a fact to be used evidentially in respect of co-defendant B. …