Criminal Justice Act 2007

29.

Inferences from failure or refusal to account for accused's presence at a particular place.

29.— (1) The Act of 1984 is amended by the substitution of the following section for section 19:

“19.— (1) Where in any proceedings against a person for an arrestable offence evidence is given that the accused—

( a) at any time before he or she was charged with the offence, on being questioned by a member of the Garda Síochána in relation to the offence, or

( b) when being charged with the offence or informed by a member of the Garda Síochána that he or she might be prosecuted for it,

was requested by the member to account for his or her presence at a particular place at or about the time the offence is alleged to have been committed, and the member reasonably believes that the presence of the accused at that place and at that time may be attributable to his or her participation in the commission of the offence and the member informed the accused that he or she so believes, and the accused failed or refused to give an account, being an account which in the circumstances at the time clearly called for an explanation from him or her when so questioned, charged or informed, as the case may be, then, the court, in determining whether a charge should be dismissed under Part IA of the Criminal Procedure Act 1967 or whether there is a case to answer and the court (or, subject to the judge’s directions, the jury) in determining whether the accused is guilty of the offence charged (or of any other offence of which he or she could lawfully be convicted on that charge) may draw such inferences from the failure or refusal as appear proper; and the failure or refusal may, on the basis of such inferences, be treated as, or as capable of amounting to, corroboration of any evidence in relation to which the failure or refusal is material.

(2) A person shall not be convicted of an offence solely or mainly on an inference drawn from a failure or refusal to account for his or her presence at a particular place under subsection (1).

(3) Subsection (1) shall not have effect unless—

( a) the accused was told in ordinary language when being questioned, charged or informed, as the case may be, what the effect of the failure or refusal to account for his or her presence at a particular place might be, and

( b) the accused was afforded a reasonable opportunity to consult a solicitor before such failure or refusal occurred.

(4) Nothing in this section shall, in any proceedings—

( a) prejudice the admissibility in evidence of the silence or other reaction of the accused in the face of anything said in his or her presence relating to the conduct in respect of which he or she is charged in so far as evidence thereof would be admissible apart from this section,

( b) be taken to preclude the drawing of any inference from the silence or other reaction of the accused which could properly be drawn apart from this section, or

( c) be taken to preclude the drawing of any inference from the failure or refusal of a person to account for his or her presence which could properly be drawn apart from this section.

(5) The court (or, subject to the judge’s directions, the jury) shall, for the purposes of drawing an inference under this section, have regard to whenever, if appropriate, the account of his or her presence at a particular place concerned was first given by the accused.

(6) This section shall not apply in relation to the questioning of a person by a member of the Garda Síochána unless it is recorded by electronic or similar means or the person consents in writing to it not being so recorded.

(7) References in subsection (1) to evidence shall, in relation to the hearing of an application under Part IA of the Criminal Procedure Act 1967 for the dismissal of a charge, be taken to include a statement of the evidence to be given by a witness at the trial.

(8) In this section ‘arrestable offence’ has the meaning it has in section 2 (as amended by section 8 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006) of the Criminal Law Act 1997.”.

(2) This section shall not apply to a failure or refusal of a person to account for his or her presence if the failure or refusal occurred before the commencement of this section.

(3) Subsection (1) shall not affect the application of section 19 of the Act of 1984 to a failure or refusal of a person to account for his or her presence if the failure or refusal occurred before the commencement of this section, and that section shall apply to such a failure or refusal as if subsection (1) had not been enacted.