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The Corroboration warning in sexual offence trials:final vestige of the historic suspicion of sexual offence complainants or a necessary protection for defendants?
Leahy, Susan
As a general rule, witnesses in criminal trials are deemed to be fully competent to testify to matters that are within their own knowledge, and the evidence of a lone witness, if believed, is enough to support a finding of guilt. Despite this, in sexual offence trials, a trial judge has discretion to warn the jury of the dangers of convicting a defendant on the basis of the uncorroborated evidence of the complainant. This discretionary corroboration warning is one of the last remaining commonalities between Irish and English sexual offences law. Given the inertia in sexual offences law reform in Ireland, the fact that the discretionary corroboration warning continues to apply is to be expected. However, in light of the overhaul of both the substantive and procedural rules on sexual offences in England in recent times, the lack of attention to the suitability of the discretionary warning in an English context is surprising. A possible explanation for the reluctance to consider the rules on corroboration is that they are seen as a necessary mechanism to protect defendants’ rights and, given the discretionary nature of the rules, they are not seen to impinge unduly upon the interests of complainants
Keyword(s): corroboration; sexual; offence trial
Publication Date:
2014
Type: Journal article
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Language(s): English
Institution: University of Limerick
Citation(s): The International Journal of Evidence and Proof;18(1),pp.41-64
Publisher(s): SAGE
First Indexed: 2019-07-04 06:25:21 Last Updated: 2019-07-04 06:25:21