The Court of Appeal has refused to reverse the decision of a magistrate to dismiss a marijuana possession case against a man because it did not begin for seven years.
Delivering an oral decision at the end of a brief virtual appeal yesterday, Appellate Judges Alice Yorke-Soo Hon and Maria Wilson dismissed the appeal, which was brought by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on behalf of the police officer, who charged Lindsay Grell in 2010.
Presenting submissions on behalf of the DPP’s Office, prosecutor Nigel Pilgrim claimed that the magistrate failed to consider the public interest in having the case fully prosecuted and the impact on public confidence in the criminal justice system.
While Pilgrim admitted that a culture change was needed by police officers, in terms of missing court hearings, he claimed that the officer in Grell’s case was not at fault.
He claimed that while the magistrate claimed that the start of the trial of the case was adjourned 20 times, six of which were due to the officer’s non-appearance, he failed to indicate the reasons for the other 14 adjournments.
Pilgrim also pointed out that the day before the last hearing, the officer had contacted the police prosecutor and indicated that he was unable to attend as he had to sit a promotional exam. Pilgrim suggested that the magistrate improperly rejected the prosecutor’s request for another adjournment and then moved the dismiss the entire case.
Responding to Pilgrim, Grell’s lawyer Shawn Morris claimed that the magistrate was correct in his decision.
Morris also denied that he and his team were responsible for the other adjournments of the case that were not attributed to any particular party, based on the court’s records.
In their decision, the appeal panel noted that the magistrate properly considered the need for the case to be heard and determined quickly.
“It goes to both sides. One has to take into consideration the public interest in having matters dealt with expeditiously,” Wilson said.
The judges also commended the magistrate for his decision.
According to the evidence in the case, Grell was arrested and charged for possession of 426 grammes of marijuana in December 2010.
After 46 hearings of the case, it was dismissed in 2018.
Grell was also represented by Larry Williams.