Letby re-trial - Why?

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28 September, 2023

Craig MacKenzie

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') informed the court that it seeks a re-trial on those charges.

Many may question how they have come to this decision and ask what is to be gained by such a re-trial. Especially in circumstances which will mean that she will never be released from prison, having received a "whole life tariff".

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."

How can Forbes Solicitors help?

We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please Craig MacKenzie, Partner and Head of the High-Profile & Private Crime Division.

For more information contact Craig MacKenzie in our Crime department via email or phone on 01772 220 022. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Crime department here

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