Visual Link Evidence of Minors
In certain sexual offences, offences in relation to child pornography and human trafficking, a person under the age of 18 may give evidence through a visual link unless the court sees good reason to the contrary. Evidence may be allowed through a television link in other cases with the consent of the court. Where evidence is being given through a live television link, neither the judge nor legal representatives may wear a wig or gown.
The court may on the application of the prosecution or the accused if satisfied having regard to the age or mental condition of a witness, that the interests of justice so require, require that questions be put to a person underage and answers be given through an intermediary.
The questions put to a witness through an intermediary shall be either in words used by the questioner or so as to convey to the witness in a way that is appropriate to his age and mental conditions, the meaning of the questions asked. The intermediary is appointed by the court and should be a person, who in the court’s opinion is competent to act as such.
Evidence by Video Recording
Evidence given in video recording by a person under 18 years by a way of a live link, and evidence of a statement made by a person under 14 years being the alleged victim of a crime, during an interview is admissible at trial as evidence of facts stated, on the same basis as it had been given under oath. In the case of a statement, the person concerned must be available for cross-examination.
The above provisions in relation to persons under age 18 years and 14 years apply equally to a person with a mental handicap who is over those ages.
A video recording is not to be admitted as evidence in the above circumstances if the court is of the opinion that the interest of justice requires it to be excluded. In considering this matter, the court is to have regard to all the circumstances including the risks that its admission would result in unfairness to the accused.
In estimating the weight to be attached to a statement in a video recording, regard is to be had to all circumstances from which any inference can reasonably be drawn as to its accuracy or otherwise.
Notice to Give Video Link Evidence
Where a video recording of a statement in the above types of cases is proposed to be used, the prosecutor must notify the accused at the time the accused is sent forward for trial. He must be given an opportunity to see the video recording of the interview.
If the person who is the victim of the alleged offence is available for cross-examination at the hearing, the judge hearing the application may consider any statements made in relation to that offence in a video recording. If the accused consents an edited version of the video recording of an interview may with the consent of the judge be shown at the hearing.
Where a person is accused of an offence of the above types, and evidence is given that the accused was known to the witness before the offence, the witness is not to be required to identify the accused at the trial unless the interests of justice so require.
In any other case, evidence by a person other than the witness that the witness identified the accused is admissible.