Ayesha appeared before Warby J on behalf of the Appellant in an appeal by way of case stated.
On 13 May 2019, the Appellant, Lee Mosey, was convicted after trial for breaching a restraining order, contrary to s.5 Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The court had declined to adjourn the trial and proceeded to hear the matter in the Appellant’s absence despite a medical note being adduced.
In refusing the adjournment, the court stated:
‘We have decided to hear this case in the absence of the defendant because while we have evidence of a medical illness it was not conclusive and did not give a prognosis or time when he may be fit. We have decided that the case should proceed in a timely manner in the knowledge that the offence relates to July 2018, a witness is present and we cannot delay further.’
The question posed to the High Court was: "Were we entitled to refuse to adjourn the trial?"
Warby J held that lower court were not entitled to refuse the application to adjourn. Although the default position in the Magistrates' Court is that a trial should proceed, a defendant's medically explained absence was an exception. The Court held that where medical evidence produced satisfies the criteria set out in paragraphs 24.C and 5C.4 of the Criminal Practice Direction, the court ought not to refuse the application.
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the Appellant's conviction has been set aside.