The Trial: A Murder in the Family – The Evidence

24 May 2017

One of the most frustrating features of The Trial has been the deployment of the ‘evidence’ to the audience. This is not a criticism of the way the case has been presented to the jury – the prosecution or defence teams have ably demonstrated the quality of the criminal bar – but of the decision to intercut the ‘evidence’ with material which wouldn’t be before a jury. This has made following the trial, as the jury have, impossible.

However, episode three was a blessed change of pace being almost entirely dedicated to the evidence of three key witnesses: 1) Danny Mullen; 2) Lewis Skinner; and 3) Simon Davies.

Mr Mullen was the first to give evidence and ‘tipped the case on its head’ by telling the jury that on the morning of the murder he saw Lewis Skinner 10:03 on Cross Street. If the jury accept Mr Mullen’s evidence then the corollary is that Mr Skinner has lied.

Mr Skinner was the next in the box and it was established that he was a former police officer who was dismissed from the force as a result of his criminal conviction following from his violent treatment of a suspect. Mr Skinner had also placed his phone into airplane mode during the time of the murder.

At this point the most difficult decision of any criminal trial was to be made. Would Simon Davies give evidence?

A defendant is under no obligation to give evidence but a failure to do so may give rise to an adverse inference and, as seen in the jury room, there is also the human aspect – juries like to hear from a defendant.

This decision is ultimately a matter for the defendant alone and Mr Davies’ firm view that he would give evidence brought the matter to a close. 

But unbeknownst to the defendant and his team, one juror summarised the position as: “you’ve got a slightly overbearing ex-husband. Ok? Who is predominantly a quiet man, is prone to bouts of mild, spontaneous, violence. Or, you’ve got the physically fit, strong, trained, disgraced, ex-copper who has a criminal record for excessive violence”.

At the close of the prosecution case were the jury faced with sufficient evidence to satisfy the jury so that they are sure of Mr Davies’ guilt or, put another way given the development of the evidence, could the jury discount the possibility that Mr Skinner murdered Carla Davies? It is impossible to second guess a jury but Mr Davies may regret his decision.

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