Admissibility of hearsay in criminal proceedings—absent witnesses
Admissibility of hearsay in criminal proceedings—absent witnesses

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Admissibility of hearsay in criminal proceedings—absent witnesses
  • The statutory conditions
  • The identity of the absent witness
  • Unavailability due to death
  • Unfit witness
  • Witness outside the UK
  • Witness cannot be found
  • Witness in fear
  • Hearsay as sole or decisive evidence
  • Safeguards
  • more

The statutory conditions

The statement of an absent witness is only admissible if the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. the evidence would be admissible as oral evidence in the proceedings, if the witness had been available to attend court, and

  1. the person who made the statement is identified to the court's satisfaction

  2. the witness falls within one of the categories of absent witnesses. These are:

    1. a witness who is dead

    2. those who are medically unfit

    3. those who are outside the UK and it is not reasonably practicable to secure their attendance

    4. those who cannot be found, although reasonable practicable steps have been taken to find them, and

    5. those who are in fear

A witness will not fall into a category of an 'absent witness' if the person who wishes to rely on the hearsay statement caused the witness's absence. The ‘person in support of whose case’ the statement is sought to be relied on is a reference to the defendant or their legal representatives. This was the interpretation given to this provision in R v C in which the appellant, on appeal against conviction, sought to argue that the ABE interview of a complainant who had committed suicide was inadmissible under CJA 2003, s 116(5) on the basis that her absence as a witness was caused by herself and as the