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PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2004 2:44 pm 
Taxi driver wins kidnap appeal

MANSFIELD taxi driver Martin Guthrie was yesterday cleared of kidnapping and indecently assaulting a female passenger by a Court of Appeal in London.

After the verdict was announced, a relieved Mr Guthrie hugged his family and announced that his '18 months of hell' were over.
A judge at the Appeal Court told 38-year-old Mr Guthrie he was free to go after ruling that the driver's convictions were 'unsafe'.
Mr Guthrie, of Bosworth Street, had originally been facing up to three-and-a-half years in prison after being convicted by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court in January last year, but his sentencing was postponed when new information came to light which had not been disclosed to his defence team during the trial.
The trial judge took the dramatic step of granting a certificate of fitness to appeal after hearing the female passenger who had accused Mr Guthrie had made an almost identical allegation in 1997.
The woman had claimed Mr Guthrie had picked her up in his cab after she had left Mansfield's Lexis nightclub in September 2002. She said he drove her home, but then locked the doors, put his car in reverse and drove to an alleyway where he indecently assaulted her.
She said he only let her out when she told him she needed the toilet and she had run off across playing fields.
But Mr Guthrie, who was described at his trial as a family man with no previous convictions, claimed from the outset that the woman had tricked him into letting her out of the cab so she could run off without paying the £8 fare.
At the Appeal Court yesterday Mr Justice Douglas Brown said the woman's account was 'in remarkably similar factual terms' to her complaint in 1997.
On both occasions she said she had drunk a lot but was not drunk, that the drivers had told her she looked too young to have a daughter of a particular age and that they both knew where her address was and did not need to ask for directions.
And in both accounts she said she had feared she would be raped or killed and had knocked on the door of a nearby house for help, but had been turned away.
But before the trial, when defence barrister Mike Evans routinely asked the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) whether the claimant had made previous complaints, he was given the impression that she had not.
Said Mr Justice Brown: "Clearly, if this information had been in the hands of Mr Evans for cross-examination it would have had a considerable effect on the jury's appreciation of the evidence of this complainant. It is obvious this was a most fundamental failure to disclose information about the complainant and the conviction clearly cannot stand."
He said this had been recognised by the CPS and it was not seeking a retrial.
Mr Guthrie, who is married with two children, had his taxi licence suspended when the proceedings were launched.
After being cleared he said he was unsure whether he would go back to driving a cab, but thanked his family and colleagues for their support during his ordeal.


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