Cross Examining a Vulnerable Witness – R v YGM [2018] EWCA Crim 2458

This Decision of the CACD gave the Court the opportunity to give further guidance on the approach to cross examination of a child witness .

Defence Counsel had properly questioned the child victim and the judge agreed to give a direction pointing out to the jury that Counsel was not allowed to cross examine the witness in the same way as he would cross examine another witness . The Judge would not allow Counsel to make any further comment over this in his closing speech .

The Court indicated that :

We believe that the following is best practice in a case involving cross examination of a vulnerable witness. First, the identification of any limitations on cross examination should take place at an early stage. We assume that this will occur at the ground rules hearing where the judge will discuss with the advocates the nature and extent of the limitations imposed and whether they are simply as to style or also relate to content. Before the witness is cross examined, it is best practice, (as recommended by the Judicial College) that as well as giving the standard special measures direction, the trial judge also directs the jury in general terms that limitations have been placed on the defence advocate. If any specific issues of content have been identified that the cross examiner cannot explore, the judge may wish to direct the jury about them after the cross examination is completed. On any view, the judge should direct the jury about them in the summing-up. Finally, we should add that every advocate (and trial judge) is expected to ensure that they are up to date with current best practice in the treatment of vulnerable witnesses.

Categories: Caselaw, Criminal Appeals

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