R v Spiby

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date12 March 1990
Date12 March 1990
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)

Court of Appeal

Before Lord Justice Taylor, Mr Justice Mars-Jones and Mr Justice Waite


Evidence - admissibility - computer printout

Printouts admissible as real evidence

Where a computer installed in a hotel recorded, by mechanical means and without the intervention of a human mind, information about telephone calls made by hotel guests, evidence of printouts from that computer was admissible as real evidence, and was distinguishable from the documentary evidence to which sections 68 and 69 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 applied.

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, courts would presume that such a computer was in working order at the material time.

The Court of Appeal so held when dismissing the appeal of John Eric Spiby against his conviction on February 24, 1989 in Portsmouth Crown Court (Mr Recorder Moriarty, QC and a jury) of an offence contrary to section 170(2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 of being knowingly concerned, with others, in the fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on importation of a class B controlled drug, cannabis resin, imposed by section 3(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. He was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment.

Mr Victor Williamson, assigned by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals, for the appellant; Mr Paul O'Donovan for the Crown.

LORD JUSTICE TAYLOR said that for the purposes of tha appeal the most important evidence in the case related to some telephone calls made from a hotel in Cherbourg, in which was fixed a computerised machine which metered guests' telephone calls, recorded them and worked out the charges.

Evidence was given by a manager at the hotel, who produced copy printout sheets from the machine, covering a period of days during which it was shown that eight calls had been made to the appellant's home number, and two to the number of his club.

Some of those calls were made from a room occupied at the time by a particular guest, some were made from another room to which that guest had moved and one was made from the public telephone box in the foyer of the hotel.

The manager gave evidence that he was familiar with the function of the machine. He did not profess to be a computer engineer but said that the machine had been working satisfactorily and no one had complained about the resulting bills.

That evidence was challenged and there was a voir dire. The submission made to the recorder was that sections 68 and 69 of the 1984 Act...

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21 cases
  • DPP v Murphy
    • Ireland
    • Court of Criminal Appeal
    • 21 January 2005
    ...as real evidence - The Statue of Liberty [1968] 1 WLR 739; R v Wood (1982)76 Cr App R 23; Castle v Cross [1984] 1 WLR 1372; R v Spiby (1990) 91 Cr App R 186; R v Governor of Brixton Prison, exp Levin [1997] AC 741 and R v Cochrane [1993] Crim LR 48 followed - Corroboration - Non jury trial ......
  • Lim Mong Hong v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 22 July 2003
    ...SLR 1047 (folld) PP v Tan Fook Sum [1999] 1 SLR (R) 1022; [1999] 2 SLR 523 (folld) R v Shephard [1993] AC 380 (folld) R v Spiby (1990) 91 Cr App R 186 (folld) Xia Qin Lai v PP [1999] 3 SLR (R) 257; [1999] 4 SLR 343 (folld) Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed) ss 34, 35, 36 (4) (consd);ss 3 (1......
  • O'Shea v City of Coventry Magistrates' Court and Another
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
    • 5 April 2004
    ...the Court of Criminal Appeal and the House of Lords have been placed before us. In my judgment, it suffices simply to refer to the case of R v Spiby (1990) 91 Cr App R 186. That is a decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal presided over by Taylor LJ, as he then was. The facts are very shor......
  • Elorda Smith and Everton Goulbourne v R
    • Jamaica
    • Court of Appeal (Jamaica)
    • 28 September 2012
    ...function to advise the defence on how to present its case. 23 Miss Martin had sought to rely on the case of John Eric Spiby (1990) 91 Cr App R 186 where it was held that computer printouts produced without the intervention of a human mind were real evidence outside of the scope of the relev......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Criminal Evidence and Computer Technology
    • United Kingdom
    • Wildy Simmonds & Hill Cyber Crime - Law and Practice Contents
    • 29 August 2019
    ...of a ‘statement’ input by a human being and is therefore real evidence. This distinction was highlighted in the cases of R v Spiby [1990] 91 Cr App R 186 and R v Coventry Justices, ex parte Bullard [1992] 95 Cr App R 175. In the latter case, the applicants, a husband and wife, sought to rev......
  • Table of Cases
    • United Kingdom
    • Wildy Simmonds & Hill Cyber Crime - Law and Practice Contents
    • 29 August 2019
    ...17 172–173, 266 R v Snowden [2009] EWCA Crim 1200, [2010] 1 Cr App R (S) 39 163–164 R v Southwell [2012] EWCA Crim 2882 179 R v Spiby [1990] 91 Cr App R 186, [1991] Crim LR 199, CA 237 R v Stanford [2006] EWCA Crim 258, [2006] 1 WLR 1554, [2006] 2 Cr App R 5, [2006] Info TLR 189 121, 129–13......
  • Self–Monitoring, Self–Policing, Self–Incrimination and Pollution Law
    • United Kingdom
    • The Modern Law Review No. 60-2, March 1997
    • 1 March 1997
    ...wasmade and all the circumstances) to have any recollection of the matters dealt with113 Castle vCross [1985] 1 All ER 87.114 (1990) 91 Cr App Rep 186.115 RvShepherd [1993] 1 All ER 225.116 See p 216 above.117 s 118(1) Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, as amended by s 13 and Sched 1 Ci......

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