Crown Prosecution Service to decide on Letby re-trial

Image credit:  © Cheshire Police, Crown Copyright

At the trial of former Nurse Lucy Letby, the jury could not reach a verdict on six counts of attempted murder. On 25 September 2023, the Crown Prosecution Service (‘CPS’) will inform the court whether it seeks a re-trial on those charges.

CPS guidance states that there is a presumption that the prosecution will seek a re-trial where a jury fails to agree on a verdict at the first trial.

The following factors should be considered:

• The merits of the case;
• Likely reasons for the jury’s failure to reach a verdict;
• The public interest in seeking a verdict
• The interests and views of the victim(s);
• Any views expressed by the trial judge;
• Prosecuting Advocate’s opinion; and
• The views of the police.

The Lord Chief Justice, in the case of R v Bell [2010] EWCA Crim 3 provided words of caution concerning the use of re-trials:

“We doubt the value of offering further guidance on the circumstances in which a second re-trial may be appropriate. We shall confine ourselves to reminding the Crown that the jurisdiction which permits a second re-trial after two jury disagreements in circumstances like the present must be exercised with extreme caution. The broad public interest in the administration of criminal justice leads us to the clear view that a second re-trial should be confined to the very small number of cases in which the jury is being invited to address a crime of extreme gravity which has undoubtedly occurred…and in which the evidence that the defendant committed the crime…, on any fair minded objective judgment remains very powerful.”

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