The amount of costs a defendant is ordered to pay after conviction should properly take into account the defendant’s acquittal on at least one count and their limited means and ability to pay any amount of costs ordered.
The Appellant stood two trials resulting from the same allegations. They were both heard in early 2016. In the first trial, he stood on an indictment containing four counts; two of voyeurism, one of exposure and one of sexual assault. He was acquitted of the latter two counts but the jury could not reach verdicts on the two counts of voyeurism. These were the basis of his second trial, a re-trial.
At re-trial, the Appellant was convicted of one of the remaining two counts of voyeurism and acquitted of the other. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order with an unpaid work requirement, a £60 victim surcharge and ordered to pay £2,800 prosecution costs at a rate of £200 per month. The Appellant appealed the costs order.
Section 18 (1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 provides the power of the court to 'make such order as to the costs to be paid by the accused to the prosecutor as it considers just and reasonable'; in cases where a defendant has been convicted in the Crown Court but not acquitted.
The Appellant's case was that the amount of costs ordered was not just or reasonable as it did not take into account his acquittals or the fact that he was of limited means.
It was held that the original order for costs was not just or reasonable.
The court below was not given a detailed breakdown of the costs amount put forward by the Crown of £2,800. Upon further investigation, it was found by the present Court to be an estimate of prosecution costs derived from CPS policy guidance, which set out scales of costs for convicted defendants. This was the lower figure for a trial in the Crown Court. Although the amount was the lowest figure on the scale and did not cover the actual prosecution costs of the retrial; it did not properly consider the Appellant's acquittal on one of the two counts, nor his evidence given that he had limited means and ability to pay the amount.
Thus, the Appeal was allowed and the original costs order quashed. The Court ordered that the Appellant pay prosecution costs in the sum of £1,400 at a rate of £100 per month.
10 February 2017