Court of Appeal Rejects Arguments for Appeal Against Conviction in R v AUV [2024] - Legal Principles on Indictments, Expert Evidence, and Trial Counsel Critically Evaluated

Citation: [2024] EWCA Crim 11
Judgment on


R v AUV [2024] EWCA Crim 11 is a case from the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) that centers on an application for an extension of time in which to make an application for permission to appeal against conviction, the admission of fresh evidence, and for permission to appeal itself. Through detailed analysis, the court examines numerous legal principles involving the admissibility of evidence, the sufficiency of indictments, the conduct of trial counsel, and the refusal to introduce fresh evidence.

Key Facts

The appellant, AUV, was convicted of multiple offenses concerning cruelty and sexual assault against her child, S. After a trial, she received a nine-year imprisonment sentence. The application that followed relates to a conviction appeal for a case previously refused for leave to refer as unduly lenient by the Attorney General. The grounds raised argue, inter alia, issues around indictment particulars, trial counsel’s decisions, admission of fresh evidence from various witnesses and a consultant psychiatrist, and the adequacy of challenges to complaint evidence.

Several legal principles are in play, with the court providing authoritative commentary. The principles include:

Drafting of Count in the Indictment: The court referred to R v Hayles and R v Cooper to determine whether the count for child cruelty was sufficiently particularised and noted that the allegation of a ‘course of conduct’ is consistent with Criminal Procedure Rules r.14.2(2), thus not requiring a ‘Brown’ (1984) direction.

Admissibility of Expert Evidence: Dr. Cutler’s evidence was contested for allegedly conveying opinions on the veracity of the complainant’s allegations. The court highlighted that expert evidence must pertain to the expert’s field and not opine on credibility. The court applied principles from R v Day, asserting that expert evidence did not cross the bounds of admissibility.

Fresh Evidence: Regarding the fresh evidence, principles concerning the admittance were discussed. The court found that while the new evidence would be admissible, it did not demonstrate a failure of justice.

Conduct of Trial Counsel: Criticism of trial counsel’s decisions revolved around the submission that they resulted in an unfair trial. The court reiterated principles from R v Day about proving that counsel’s incompetence led to identifiable errors, rendering the trial process unjust or unsafe.

Recent Complaint Evidence: The handling of recent complaint evidence, presented through Sarah Jessup’s testimony, was scrutinised under the lens of admissibility related to refreshing memory and recent fabrication.


The Court of Appeal refused the applications against conviction extensively. They rejected the argument that Count 1 was bad for duplicity, found trial counsel’s decisions within the bounds of competent decision-making, and denied requests to adduce fresh evidence.

Furthermore, the court ruled that the expert evidence of Dr. Cutler and the criticism of her cross-examination were without merit. Fresh evidence seeking to explore alternative explanations for the complainant’s behavior was deemed speculative, and thus refused. Upon examining trial counsel’s decisions, the court did not find significant errors that would undermine the safety of the convictions.


Each ground of appeal raised by the appellant was systematically looked into and dismissed by the court. This case reinforces that while different trial strategies can be deployed, retrospective criticism without identifying substantial errors leading to an unsafe trial will be unsuccessful. The legal principles applied by the court underscored the necessity for appeal grounds to be compelling and materially significant to overturn a conviction. The case demonstrates the court’s commitment to ensuring the fairness of the trial process and the need for concrete, not speculative, reasons when challenging a conviction.