R v Makanjuola (1995) 1 WLR 1348 is a legal case that was decided in 1995 and is often cited as an important authority on the approach courts should take when dealing with warnings about the uncorroborated evidence of accomplices or complainants in sexual cases. The case provides guidance on the discretion of judges to give warnings, the evidential basis required for such warnings, and the strength and form of the warnings.
Discretion in giving warnings: It is within the discretion of the judge to decide whether to give a warning at all and, if so, the form of the warning. The judge has the authority to determine whether a warning is necessary in light of the specific circumstances of the case.
Evidential basis for warning: The court emphasised that there must be an evidential basis for suggesting that the witness providing uncorroborated evidence is unreliable. The judge should consider whether there are grounds to question the credibility or truthfulness of the witness, such as past false complaints or a grudge against the accused.
Strength of the warning: The strength and terms of the warning are left to the judge's discretion. The judge can tailor the warning to the specific circumstances of the case, taking into account the credibility of the witness and any potential factors that may impact the reliability of the evidence.
Supporting material: In cases where a warning is given to the jury to look for supporting material, it is important to instruct the jury on how to assess and evaluate such evidence. The jury should be cautioned to exercise care in determining what evidence might constitute supporting material and to be mindful of potential pitfalls.
Abrogation of corroboration rules: The court highlighted that the old corroboration rules, which required corroboration for witnesses who were accomplices or complainants in sexual offences, were completely abolished by Section 32 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Therefore, there is no longer a strict requirement to give a corroboration warning solely based on the witness's status.
The case of R v Makanjuola provides important guidance to judges in sexual cases involving uncorroborated evidence. It emphasises the discretionary power of judges in giving warnings, the need for an evidential basis for questioning witness reliability, and the abrogation of the old corroboration rules.