University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Reconceptualising Good Character: Hunter v R; Saruwu v R; Johnstone v R; Walker v R; Lonsdale v R

Monaghan, Nicola (2015) Reconceptualising Good Character: Hunter v R; Saruwu v R; Johnstone v R; Walker v R; Lonsdale v R. The International Journal of Evidence & Proof, 19 (3). pp. 190-195. ISSN Print: 1365-7127 Online: 1740-5572

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This case note concerns the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Hunter v R; Saruwu v R; Johnstone v R; Walker v R; Lonsdale v R. The Court of Appeal clearly intended this decision to be the leading authority on the nature and extent of good character directions. The court took the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review of the law, and concluded that the principles of good character had been extended too far so that defendants with bad criminal records or those not entitled to good character directions were claiming entitlement to such directions. This led to a significant increase in applications for leave to appeal against the good character directions given by trial judges. The problem with the principles of good character arose in light of the wider definition given to the term ‘bad character’ under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, and this inevitably necessitated a reconsideration of the scope of good character directions. Thus, the court sought to reconceptualise good character, categorising defendants into those of ‘absolute good character’, ‘effective good character’ and ‘bad character’, and held that whether a defendant is one of effective good character or whether a defendant of bad character is entitled to good character directions are matters for the trial judge’s discretion. It is argued that this is a welcome decision which will likely eliminate the recent practice of defence counsel manipulating good character principles to coax trial judges into endorsing the defence case.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: character evidence, good character, jury directions, Vye directions
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Humanities
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Depositing User: Nicola Monaghan
Date Deposited: 23 May 2019 08:42
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:29

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