Claire Moran, Solicitor Advocate, dealt with a case in which a young man thought he had stumbled upon a ‘Gangland’ execution.
I represented a young man at the Crown Court for a charge of Dangerous Driving. He had never been in trouble with the Police before, was a straight-A student undertaking his A-Levels and had been heavily involved in charity work, including the Police.
One night he was driving his car with friends as passengers. They got some fast food and decided to go and eat it at a nearby Reservoir car park. As he pulled into the car park, he and his friends were met with the sight of a group of men stood around a man on his knees, with his hands tied behind his back. The men immediately looked over at his car and started to move towards it. Terrified that he had stumbled upon some ‘gangland’ incident, he quickly turned his vehicle around and drove off at speed.
In his haste to drive away, he collided with another vehicle entering the Reservoir. This allowed the men to catch up with him and they started trying to smash his windows with weapons. Now fearing for his life, he managed to drive away, admittedly at speed.
What my client didn’t know was that the men were in fact plain clothed Police Officers, who were arresting someone. At the time, the Police assumed that my client was connected to the man they were arresting, hence turning around and driving off at speed. Both sides, it turns out, were wrong.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) persisted with the case and I represented him at a number of hearings. He was terrified at the prospect of being convicted and horrified at the suggestion he would have knowingly driven away from the Police. I had to keep him calm and explain that despite the pressure from the CPS, pleading guilty was not the right thing to do. My persistence paid off and eventually, the CPS agreed that the case against him should be dropped.
I felt very proud of what I achieved in his case and the gratitude that he showed to me throughout. I think that’s a good example of why we do, what we do.