Mark Robinson secures absolute discharge for defendant

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Mark Robinson of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team acted for the defendant, instructed by Nike Otubusen of Cotisens Solicitors.

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Mark Robinson secured an absolute discharge for the defendant, found to have done the act of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, after a six-week trial at Southwark Crown Court.

Mark’s client was one of seven defendants charged with s.18 GBH, violent disorder and the possession of a bladed article after another party was stabbed in the leg and beaten unconscious in broad daylight. During an initial conference with his client, Mark was of the belief that the client was on the neurodiverse spectrum and provided advice for a psychological assessment.

This led to four psychological assessments being undertaken, two by the defence and two by the prosecution, all of which found Mark’s client unfit to plead and to stand trial. The client’s learning difficulties were so acute that they struggled to understand what they had been charged with and the functions of a judge, jury, solicitor, and barrister.

Mark had previously represented the client in the Youth Court, where he was able to secure a conditional discharge for a possession of stun gun. Subsequent to his client being found unfit, Mark successfully appealed the stun gun matter to Snaresbrook Crown Court and assisted his solicitors in drafting representations on two other outstanding matters, being concerned with the supply of Class A and possession of an offensive weapon in a private place. The prosecution formally offered no evidence a week before his client was due to stand trial.

After the trial concluded, there were five separate hearings to try and find adequate disposal pursuant to the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964. Mark drafted a 16-page sentencing note to assist the court, highlighting the deficiencies in the act, expressly Part 2 of the Act, and how it provides an inadequate disposal for dealing with defendants on the neurodiverse spectrum. The Judge conceded that in his forty-year legal career, he had not come across a case like this before and agreed that the case law was woefully lacking.

The Judge then accepted that no suitable treatment could be found that could support Mark’s client’s needs and, with reluctance, imposed an absolute discharge.

Mark is regularly instructed to represent vulnerable defendants, where fitness to plead and fitness to stand trial is an issue. Mark also regularly speaks at events regarding neurodiversity and is an ambassador for the Dyspraxia Foundation. 

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