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Not Guilty of Stealing a Motor Vehicle

RELATED TO: Stealing / Larceny Offences, NSW Penalties for Criminal Offences, Penalties for Commonwealth Offences
CRIMINAL CASE

Our client is a 35 year old man from Crows Nest in Sydney.

He was charged with Take & Drive Conveyance and Carried in Conveyance Without the Owner’s consent.

The police version of the events was that our client and his partner (the co-accused) stole the subject car from an underground carpark.

CCTV footage showed a vehicle similar to our client’s following the allegedly stolen car shortly after alleged crime took place. The police claimed that our client was driving the stolen car and his partner followed in the car owned by our client.

Five witnesses described people similar in appearance to the pair in the carpark just before the alleged theft. Two of those witnesses positively identified our client from a photo identification board.

The two witnesses stated that they saw the pair driving as alleged by police. Our client’s DNA was found on the steering wheel of the allegedly stolen car. Our client’s partner – against whom there was less evidence than the evidence against our client – pleaded guilty to Carried in Conveyance Without the Owner’s Consent.

Our client maintained his plea of not guilty to both charges and the matter proceeded to a defended hearing.

In court, we cross-examined the two ‘identification witnesses’ at length regarding the circumstances under which they allegedly observed our client and his partner, and also the manner in which identification was made, revealing several concerning aspects of that ‘evidence’.

We argued the DNA could have been deposited on the steering wheel through secondary transfer; in other words, by another person such as the co-accused. We submitted that it was a circumstantial case, rather than one involving direct evidence, which meant the prosecution would need to negative any reasonable defence hypothesis consistent with innocence.

In the result, the magistrate found that the prosecution failed to prove identification beyond all reasonable doubt and also failed to negative the possibility of secondary DNA transfer.

Our client was therefore found not guilty of both charges and the case was dismissed.

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