Case details

Warren (Appellant) v The State (Respondent) (Pitcairn)

Case ID: JCPC 2017/0013

Jurisdiction: The Court of Appeal of the Pitcairn Islands

Case summary

Issue(s)
  1. Did the Appellant have a fair trial by an independent tribunal under s8 of the Pitcairn Constitution?
  2. Should parts of the Pitcairn Constitution be struck down or declared invalid because of the lack of a representative legislature?
  3. Does the absence of a Pitcairn specific judicial review procedure mean the Government attempted to immunise itself from challenge?
  4. Should the Appellant’s conviction be quashed because of alleged flaws in the prosecution?
Facts

The Appellant is a resident of the Pitcairn Islands. In May 2010, he was found in possession of more than 1,000 child pornography images. Various devices were seized from him and transferred to New Zealand by boat for examination. On 26 October 2010, New Zealand granted permission in accordance with the Pitcairn Trials Act (NZ) for the Pitcairn Island courts to sit in New Zealand in relation to this matter. After the resolution of various constitutional and other challenges, the Appellant’s trial took place in February 2016. Tompkins J found him guilty of 20 charges under the Criminal Justice Act 1998 (UK). In addition, the judge, acting with two local assessors, found him guilty on two charges under the Pitcairn Summary Offences Ordinance. On 6 July 2016, the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal. On 9 December 2016, the Court of Appeal granted the Appellant leave to appeal to Her Majesty in Council under s25(10) of the Constitution of Pitcairn.

The appeal against conviction focuses on constitutional and other legal challenges first brought by the Appellant during the pre-trial hearings. The Appellant argues that his right to a fair trial by an independent tribunal under s8 of the Pitcairn Constitution was breached by, amongst other things, the appointment process and remuneration arrangements for Pitcairn judges (who are appointed primarily from the ranks of sitting and retired New Zealand judges). He also argues that s8 was breached by actual or apparent bias in the Court of Appeal. Furthermore, he argues that parts of the Pitcairn Constitution should be struck down due to the lack of a representative legislature and that the lack of a Pitcairn-specific judicial review procedure creates systemic injustice. Finally, he argues that his convictions should be quashed because the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (UK) does not extend to Pitcairn, the decision to prosecute was unlawful due to the absence of prosecution guidelines and he was convicted on the basis of inadmissible evidence.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Michael Warren

Respondent(s)

The State

Appeal

Justices

Lord Mance, Lord Sumption, Lord Hughes, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs

Hearing start date

15 May 2018

Hearing finish date

16 May 2018

Watch hearing
15 May 2018 Morning session Afternoon session
16 May 2018 Morning session