Court of Appeal quashes conviction for murder

Friday 27 October 2023

Peter Wilcock KC and Catherine Oborne of the Garden Court Criminal Defence Team represented the appellant, Stuart Layden. 

See full judgment: Layden, R. v [2023] EWCA Crim 1207

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The Court of Appeal has quashed the conviction of Stuart Layden for murder. Mr Layden was convicted of murder on 11th April 2013.

In 2015, the Court of Appeal quashed that conviction and ordered a retrial. The Court of Appeal ordered that Mr Layden should be arraigned on a fresh indictment within two months. Mr Layden was never arraigned on the fresh indictment.

Mr Layden was convicted of murder again at the retrial on 17 May 2016. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of eight years and 359 days.

It subsequently came to light that Mr Layden had never been arraigned at the retrial, in contravention of the Court’s mandatory order.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission referred Mr Layden’s case back to the Court of Appeal on the basis that there was a real possibility that his conviction would be quashed. 

The Court of Appeal considered Mr Layden’s case. The Lady Chief Justice presided over the hearing. The Court’s judgment considered the implication of s.7 and s.8 Criminal Appeal Act 1968 and the impact of the judgment of Llewellyn [2023] 2 WLR 121. 

The Court concluded that, because Mr Layden had not been arraigned within the two month time limit and no application had been made to the Court of Appeal for leave to arraign out of time, the mandatory provisions of s.7 and 8 Criminal Appeal Act 1968 meant that the Crown Court had acted without jurisdiction in re-trying him and, as a result, the conviction had to be quashed.

The Court of Appeal certified a point of law of public importance but has refused the Crown permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. 

See press coverage: BBC News, ITV News

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