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Adverse inference from no comment interview

In the case of Paul Vass (2016) the Appellant had been convicted of soliciting murder and other offences and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. In fact, he was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder but the Crown Prosecution Service had decided not to prosecute him for that offence because his alleged co-conspirator was no longer under suspicion. He had declined to answer questions in interview and the trial judge had invited to jury to draw an adverse inference from this decision under section 34 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. When interviewed under caution a suspect is warned that he does not have to answer questions but if he chooses not do so a jury can draw an adverse inference. In effect, this means that the jury are invited to consider that any defence put before the Court could and should have been made during the police interview. The real question did the suspect fail to mention material facts. In this case Vass argued that the Judge ought not to have invited the jury to draw an adverse inference because he was, in fact, convicted of a different offence to that for which he had been arrested and questioned. The Court of Appeal disagreed on the basis that the issues in the case were so narrow that the advice could have been no different in any event. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.

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