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Review Your SQE 1 Practice Records

Examination Timing: 00H00M55S

A woman telephones the emergency services and speaks to a civilian call handler. She sounds in distress and is crying. She alleges that her husband, whom she names, has just assaulted her by punching her in the face. She states that she has locked herself in the bathroom of their house to make the call because she is scared that he will assault her again. She asks for police officers to attend at their address. The call is recorded. When police officers arrive a few minutes later, the husband is still in the house. The woman is locked in the bathroom and is still upset and crying. The attending police officers coax the woman out of the bathroom and note that she has reddening and bruising to her face. The husband is arrested on suspicion of assaulting the woman. The woman refuses to give a statement to the police officers. The husband exercises his right to silence when he is interviewed by police officers under caution. He is charged with common assault. He pleads not guilty and his case is adjourned for trial. The woman refuses to come to court to give evidence, stating that she is not in fear of her husband and that she wants their relationship to continue. The prosecution wishes to rely upon the account given by the woman during her telephone call to the emergency services at the husband’s trial. Can the woman’s account given during the telephone call be admitted at the husband’s trial as part of the res gestae?

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The concept of res gestae allows certain statements made spontaneously or contemporaneously with an event to be admitted as evidence, even if they are hearsay. For a statement to be admissible under the res gestae exception, it must be made in such circumstances that there is no real opportunity for concoction or distortion. In this scenario, the woman's account given during the telephone call to the emergency services was made while she was in a state of distress and immediately following the alleged assault. Given the immediacy and the context of the call, it can be argued that the possibility of concoction or fabrication is minimal. The woman's distress and the contemporaneous nature of her statement support its reliability. Therefore, the woman's account can be admitted at the husband’s trial as part of the res gestae because it was made in circumstances where the possibility of concoction can be disregarded. 

Key Point: Statements made spontaneously or contemporaneously with an event, and in circumstances that minimize the possibility of fabrication, can be admitted as evidence under the res gestae exception to the hearsay rule. The context and immediacy of the statement are critical factors in determining its admissibility.

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