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R v (1) RONALD AUGUSTUS CLARKE (2) JAMES ANDREW FRANCIS MCDAID

The requirement that a bill of indictment be signed by a proper officer of the court was not merely a technicality, and where a trial had taken place without satisfying that requirement it was a nullity and the ensuing convictions were quashed.

12 February 2008

The appellants (C and M) appealed against a decision upholding their convictions for grievous bodily harm with intent and other offences. When the appellants’ trial had started, there was no signed indictment before the Crown Court. After evidence at the trial had ended, C and M were arraigned on an additional but alternative count of inflicting grievous bodily harm, at which point the existing form of indictment was amended by leave of the trial judge. A copy of the amended form was signed by the proper officer of the court and the amended form treated as the indictment on which the jury had convicted. The Court of Appeal applied the principle in the case of R v Ashton (John) [2006] EWCA Crim 794, (2007) 1 WLR 181 and determined that the proceedings were not rendered invalid because the original indictment was unsigned, and as no prejudice or consequential injustice had been identified the convictions were upheld. The questions to be resolved were (i) whether the absence of a sig...

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