Jul. 7th, 2010

sjy: (Default)

R v Pollock [2010] WASC 164
heard 12 June 2010; delivered 7 June 2010

This was a criminal trial for a charge of defrauding the Commonwealth by way of tax avoidance. Normally, it is the jury's responsibility in a criminal trial to assess the quality of the evidence against the accused. The judge will address the question of law by identifying the findings of fact which the jury must make in order to find the accused guilty. It is then the jury's responsibility to assess the evidence available and determine whether or not the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt on that evidence.

Here the judge dismissed the jury after finding that the accused had no case to answer: even if the Crown evidence were taken at its strongest, no reasonable person could be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the accused's guilt. That is, even a jury which took the view of the evidence most favourable to the Crown could not reasonably find the accused guilty.

[26] However, the Crown's case taken at its highest in this respect was that the accused was a director and he had signed some false earning statements for the charged period. Apart from that evidence, the Crown's evidence was that the accused did not know his obligations as a director, did not know of the company's financial obligations, did not control Express, did not prepare or have anything of note to do with the Express payroll and only became a director because Mr Kevin Pollock told him to sign the requisite form. During the charged period, the accused was a young man without any formal qualifications.
[27] In my view, even if the fact that the accused was a director of Express is added to the mix of circumstantial evidence, the evidence was insufficient for a properly instructed jury to conclude that the accused knowingly omitted to make PAYE tax instalment deduction remittances to the ATO on behalf of Express and, even if he did so, that he did so dishonestly.

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You should not rely on these case notes for any purpose. They contain my views at the time they were written. They do not represent my employer's views, and may be outdated or differ from my current views.