road and that she “lashed out” to protect herself. A 12 year old boy, Leon, unrelated to Amber or Daniel, witnessed the event, but the judge rules that he is too young to give evidence. The judge in her summing up tells the jury that the defence had the legal burden of proving that Amber had acted in self-defence. Amber is convicted.
Critically discuss whether Amber should have been convicted, with particular reference to the decisions made by the judge.
So, for a start, the decision that the twelve year old is too young to give evidence is wrong in law.
Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, s. 53(1):
'At every stage in criminal proceedings all persons are (whatever their age) competent to give evidence'.
The exception is where a person is not capable of understanding questions put to him or of giving comprehensible answers. This is not suggested in relation to the twelve year old boy.
The position in relation to self-defence is also wrong. The defence bears a limited evidential burden of raising a prima facie case of self-defence. Once this is established, the prosecution bears the legal burden of disproving self-defence beyond reasonable doubt.
The conviction is clearly unsafe and would be quashed on appeal.
Well the scenario doesn't directly describe the injuries. That's what's important. But really on the facts we have a GBH charge seems seriously disproportionate.