The Guardian newspaper recently published an article about an innocent male who was arrested for theft following a shopping trip to Waitrose in May of this year. The male, Christopher Seddon, having paid for his items, was then arrested by two police officers regarding an allegation of stolen meat worth £102 that was said to have occurred 17 day previously.

Following a detention of 6 hours at a local police station, Mr Seddon was charged with theft and then faced three months, and considerable expense in legal fees (solicitor, barrister and expert) to assert his innocence. The case was one of mistaken identify and it was reported that the store’s security guard had incorrectly identified him as the perpetrator from CCTV footage.

Mr Seddon employed the services of a solicitor, barrister and two experts to consider mobile telephone and CCTV evidence. Whilst the case was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service the day before the trial this matter highlights the financial difficulties that a wrongly accused person can face in trying to assert his or her innocence.

Whilst in like situations the court system provides for the recovery of defence costs, such amounts allowed rarely cover the entirety of the defence costs incurred and in some instants may only amount to 25% of the costs.

With the reliance however upon technical and digital evidence, expert defence analysis can often prove to be paramount. Whilst the employment of telephone data has been greatly received by the criminal court there are a number of practical implications to consider when relying upon digital evidence.

The use of mobile telephone data continues to be increasingly relied upon in cases to establish a charge of conspiracy where there are multiple defendants facing criminal charges. Even a list of contacts saved to the defendant’s phone or SIM can provide incriminating evidence in preparing a case against the accused.

In fact mobile technology has become so advanced that cell site analysis can be used where questions of doubt arise over the location of the defendant at the time the crime was committed.

Whilst data from personal devices can indeed be used to build a case against the defence, in order to stand up in criminal court the prosecution must first verify the data. The criminal courts require the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the offence in question; presenting a call log alone will not be enough to secure a conviction. Evidence obtained from personal devices must be collected by an expert office that specialises in the retrieval of digital data in order to verify its accuracy.

In any case in order for digital data to be used to its full effect in criminal proceedings expert verification is key. Here at Farleys our award winning criminal law team have a wealth of experience across the full spectrum of criminal law. Our specialist solicitors can provide advice and representation 24 hours a day 7 days a week. For 24 hours advice via our emergency crime line call 01254 606050. You can also contact us through our online contact form and one of our solicitors will be in touch.