R v Jordan (James Clinton) (1956) 40 Cr. App R 152

Medical evidence was to the cause of death – new evidence regarding the cause of death

Facts

Jordan, who worked for the United States Air Force, stabbed a man as the result of a disturbance. The victim died in hospital eight days later. The post-mortem found that the victim died of broncho-pneumonia following the abdominal injury sustained. The court in the first instance found Jordan guilty. The doctor who treated the victim contacted the United States Air Force authorities as he took a different view as to the cause of death. Leave was approved for the gathering of further evidence.

Issue

A key issue in this case was whether and under what circumstances could a court listen to additional evidence. One of the pre-requisites for such an application was that it must be shown the evidence was not available at the initial trial stage. The appellant had also raised various defences including provocation, self-defence and the fact that it was an accident.

Held

The court held that the additional evidence was of a nature that would probably have affected the jury’s verdict. The additional evidence opined that the death was not caused by the wound at all but that the medical treatment was inappropriate. The victim was intolerant to terramycin which was noticed and initially stopped before being continued the following day by another doctor. They had also introduced abnormal quantities of fluid which waterlogged the victim’s lungs. This evidence was not available at the initial trial and it was believed that a jury would listen to opinion of two doctors that had the standing the experts did in this case. On this basis, the conviction was quashed.