We recently represented a client at court who had been charged with offences before the magistrates court. He had been advised by a duty solicitor from another firm whilst in police custody to make a short prepared statement in writing which could be read to the police by the solicitor instead of the client answering questions and for the client to answer no comment to police questions thereafter. This was attractive to the client as he could get out of the police station that bit sooner. It was also an attractive way off advising the client as the duty solicitor could deal with his next case quicker. However in the long term it did the clients no favours. The short prepared statement was so short that it didn’t put down the defence properly and didn’t deal with questions that the police inevitably would ask in interview. It certainly didn’t prevent the client being charged. He came to this firm after charge. The prepared statement and no comment style interview meant that the clients defence was not properly placed before the police. Consequently they did not make enquiries which could have resulted in him not being charged. Also at the subsequent trial of the offences the prosecution were able to ask the court to make an adverse inference against the client to add to the other evidence (ie why should the court believe a defence which was not put down in police interview?) to try to persuade the court that he was guilty of the offences. We happily managed to dig the client out of this hole created by the duty solicitor. We made representations to the court why the adverse inference should not be made against the client at the trial. We guided our client thro his evidence on this issue. Happily the court agreed not to make an adverse inference and client was acquitted of all offences.
The moral is that sometimes it is better to spend a little bit longer at the police station and be represented by a solicitor who is not concerned with just getting to the next job, and thereby reduce the risk of possibly spending 4 months at Winson Green prison following a conviction, partly based on an adverse inference made because of a no comment interview. 1 hour longer in police interview at the start of the case is much better than months in prison at the end of the case .