Accessory to Murder
The client was living with his friend. Whilst they were both at home another man arrived, with whom there was an existing rivalry. The housemate confronted the man, and during a fight stabbed him in the belly. The victim died from his injuries.
The housemate then asked the client to assist him in destroying some of the evidence, including disposing of the knife and helping him burn the clothes that he was wearing. The client agreed and helped his friend. The housemate was charged with Murder whilst the client was charged with being an Accessory to Murder.
Unless there is an application for separate trials, both offenders are always tried together in the Supreme Court. The client’s charge contained an error in the wording. This was not immediately obvious to the prosecution, as their main focus was on prosecuting the principal offender who had killed the victim.
When it came time for closing arguments, we made submissions to the Judge in relation to the error. Upon being made aware of the error, the prosecution applied to amend the charge. This was denied by the Judge, and the charge was struck out.
Unfortunately this did not prevent the Crown from re-listing the case. Following on from the jury finding the main offender guilty, the Crown indicated their intention to re-try our client. Intensive negotiations followed. It was agreed that the client would plead guilty to the charge if the Crown would submit that a suspended sentence was within the sentencing range.
Upon entering a plea of guilty His Honour imposed a gaol sentence of two and a half years wholly suspended for a period of three years. The client avoided an immediate gaol sentence.