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Poetic justice: MPR barrister uses Bob Marley lyrics to secure acquittal at Croydon Crown Court

Our client was charged with conspiracy to supply firearms along with others following a lengthy covert operation by the police. He also had a previous conviction for an identical offence. The evidence seemed overwhelming: his fingerprints were found on the bag containing one of the firearms. His DNA was found on the sock used to wrap the firearm in. He had been under surveillance just moments before he was knocked by specialist armed Trojan units (SO19) of the Metropolitan Police Service in a car blasting out gangster rap and Twain Gotti’s “Ride Out”. He wore “bling”, designer shiny suits and had an affinity to hip-hop music.

The judge allowed evidence of our client’s bad character and similar fact evidence from his previous case. The similar modus operandi would be admissible in the trial. Our client was warned about what appeared to be very strong evidence against him and the risks involved in having a trial. If convicted, he faced double figures in custody. He protested his innocence and instructed MPR Solicitors to defend him. Many would have steered away but we took up the challenge and went about preparing his case meticulously to give him the best possible chance at trial.

The trial commenced. The jury were hooked. All the Defendants in the trial gave evidence, some trying to put the boot in against our client. It was a cut-throat defence. Typically this is not a defence tactic favoured by defence barristers as the prosecutor can sit back and watch the Defendants in a trial convict each other!

The Prosecutor commenced his closing speech to the jury. “Look at them in the dock” he said pointing to each Defendant in turn, “Don’t let them fool ya, or even try to school ya!” he said in his best Bob Marley accent trying to momentarily hide that expensive private education waving his hand about emphatically as he proceeded with the rest of his speech highlighting the evidence against each of the Defendants. Was this an attempt to score brownie points with a Croydon jury and rack up some street cred? Or was he playing to the Press gathered at the back of the courtroom? I suppose one will never know. It was just too good an opportunity to miss. This case was every defence barrister’s pseudo-nightmare.

Question: hopeless case, likely to lose, how do you make your closing speech entertaining enough to win that jury over to the extent that they defy the odds you had given your client on securing an acquittal?

Answer: chose the right Bob Marley song and sing to the jury, preferably in your own accent unless you happen to hail from Trenchtown.

End result: a verse from “Judge Not” was chosen by our MPR defence barrister:

“Don’t you look at me so smug
And say I’m going bad.
Who are you to judge me
And the life that I live?
I know that I’m not perfect
And that I don’t claim to be.
So before you point your fingers,

Be sure”

Our client was acquitted of all charges and walked free from court.

Moral of the case: choose your words carefully and respect your jury.

Other most frequently asked question: did he sing to the jury?

If you want to know the answer to the above question or feel that you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this news article, please ask to speak to Abdullah Al-Yunusi who is a leading criminal defence barrister and heads the Serious and Complex Crime Team at MPR Solicitors. He is also a fan of Bob Marley.

As Bob Marley wrote “Get up, stand up for your rights! Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight!”

Contact our experts for further advice