The cases involve two former post office staff connected to the Horizon scandal and have been referred to the Crown court by the CCRC, a body that reviews suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice. Peter Huxham pleaded guilty to fraud by misrepresentation in 2010 was sentenced to eight months imprisonment and died in 2020, his son applied to have his case reviewed by the CCRC in 2021. Roderick Dundee pleaded guilty to false accounting in 2005 and was given community punishment of 240 hours, applied to the CCRC in November 2020, but died in May 2021. His daughter has since pursued an application on his behalf.
The commission currently has statutory powers to refer Crown court cases to the Court of Appeal, but not from magistrates’ to the Crown court. CCRC Chairman, Helen Pitcher called the reviews ‘legally challenging and complex’: ’after careful analysis of the law, we believe there is a reasonable argument that the Crown court is able to hear an appeal on behalf of a deceased person if the case is referred to it by the CCRC.’
‘We feel it is important for this issue to be considered by the Crown court and for the families of the deceased men to have an opportunity to appeal against the convictions of their loved ones.’
There is currently no statute that provides for the Crown Court to hear appeals on behalf of deceased persons. However, the CCRC has stated there is a ‘real possibility’ this power exists under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995.
The CCRC has so far referred 70 cases related to Post Office convictions. The Law Gazette also reported ‘It is believed there are more unchallenged, and potentially unjust convictions.’