The Jury in the Trial of King Richard III are asked ‘Guilty or Not Guilty’….
Once upon a time, a few hours down the M1, two bodies were discovered buried within the Tower of London. Rumours were that the bones belonged to Prince Edward and Prince Richard, the nephews of the Plantaganet King Richard.
Helen Johnson, Managing Partner at Emery Johnson Astills acted for the defendant, King Richard III, alongside William Harbage Queen’s Counsel from 36 Bedford Row, London. It was Helen Johnson and William Harbage’s job to argue against the historical assumption that King Richard III locked up and killed his young nephews to enable himself to inherit the throne from his deceased brother, King Edward IV.
The Jury were asked to consider the evidence from witnesses who were around at the time of King Richard’s rise to the throne, or who were in the palace courts in the historical period thereafter. Witnesses for the Prosecution were Italian cleric, Dominic Mancini, who witnessed the events leading up to Richard III’s coronation and Sir Thomas More, Advisor to Henry VIII, witness to the aftermath of King Richard’s reign. The defence called Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, who is the sister of Richard III and John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln, who was the Chancellor of England under the reign of Kind Richard III.
As with a modern day trial, the prosecution opened their case and called their witnesses. At the close of the prosecution case, it was in the hands of William Harbage QC and Ms Johnson’s to present the defence case. King Richard III was called to the stand. Prior to remaining silent throughout the course of questioning, King Richard III made the following comment;
‘I do not need to answer questions in this trial. I am accountable to God. I deny any wrongdoing and that is all I propose to say’
At the conclusion of the evidence there was a defence speech and then His Honour Judge Hammond summed up the case. HHJ Hammond told the jury that unlike modern day trials where the the prosecution need to prove the case against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt, they had to decide if it was ‘more likely than not’ the King had played a part in the murders and that they do not have to prove the King killed the princes personally. Before sending the Jury, the whole audience, out to deliberate, HHJ Hammond said the following;
‘You must be satisfied the defendant knowingly and intentionally took a part in the murder of the princes – in other words, that it was a team job and he was in the team. If the defendant gave the orders to underlings, then that is sufficient evidence of participation’.
After a short time deliberating, the Jury were called back into Court to deliver their verdict. In the case against King Richard III for the offence of Murder against his two nephews, the Jury found the defendant NOT GUILTY. In the spirit of the proceedings, William Harbage QC requested a defence costs order in the sum of “a King’s ransom” which was granted.
Helen Johnson, of Emery Johnson Astills presented the case for King Richard III as she specialises in Crown Court advocacy for those accused of criminal offences. Should you need representation for any matter, whether at the Crown Court, Magistrates Court or at the Police Station please do not hesitate in contacting Emery Johnson Astills at either our Leicester or Loughborough offices.