News Criminal Defence 1st Apr 2021

Racially aggravated assault of a blind Complainant at the “Magic Mike” show – Sophia Dower acts for client in this acquittal

Mrs Best, a professional woman of previous good character, was charged with racially aggravated assault by beating against a young, blind, Muslim complainant. The alleged offence took place at the “Magic Mike” concert at the London Hippodrome where both individuals were sat next to each-other in the front row. The Complainant alleged that during the course of the show, Mrs Best punched her twice in the upper arm and verbally abused her on the basis of her race, religion and disability. There were two independent eyewitnesses who also alleged that they saw Mrs Best punch the Complainant repeatedly in the arm, accompanied by a threatening cut-throat gesture towards her. This prompted the witnesses to complain to security on the Complainant’s behalf. Police attended the auditorium and Mrs Best was arrested and later charged.

At trial, the Complainant and the eye-witnesses were cross-examined at length on the inconsistencies between their accounts and the CCTV. In addition, cross-examination of the Officer in the Case not only identified serious failures in disclosure, but also a number of major concerns regarding the way the case was investigated (such as allowing the witnesses and the Complainant to discuss the incident prior to their statements being taken by officers, resulting in possible contamination of evidence).

After an 8 hour trial at Westminster Magistrates Court which lasted until 7 o’clock in the evening, the District Judge found that Mrs Best did not make a cut-throat gesture, there were significant inconsistencies between the witnesses’ accounts and the CCTV, he could not be sure about what was said to the Complainant by Mrs Best and that the contact which did take place was not a punch. As such, Mrs Best was acquitted.

Sophia Dower was instructed by Simon Milburn of Hunt & Coombs Solicitors.

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