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R v Jonathan Eric Lawson

A judge was correct to allow the prosecution to adduce bad character evidence in order to establish a defendant's propensity as to truthfulness where there were inconsistencies between the defences of two co-accused and the evidence was of substantial probative value.

8 September 2006

The appellant (L) appealed against a conviction of manslaughter. The victim (W) was a 44-year-old, mentally handicapped male with the mental age of an 8-year-old. He had wandered onto a lakeside pontoon, stripped off his clothes and dangled his toes in the water. His behaviour attracted the attention of L and two co-accused (Q and K). L and Q approached W following shouts of encouragement from others nearby to push W into the lake. K was also close to W, but was there independently of L and Q. W was heard to state that he was unable to swim, following which, Q pushed him into the water. CCTV footage of the incident showed L making a mock pushing action behind W, immediately followed by Q's actual pushing of W into the water. Q pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but L and K both denied that they were secondary offenders by encouraging Q to push W into the water. The defences put forward by each sought to incriminate the other as to their true intentions regarding W. At trial, K adduced ...

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