What Next for Sally?
In a dramatic climax the jury returned guilty verdicts in the case of R v Sally Metcalfe, the hapless Coronation Street Councillor caught up in fraud, money laundering and bribery.
As viewers will know, poor Sally appears to be a victim of Duncan’s cunning plan to divert blame elsewhere.
Her fate now lies in the hands of the trial judge, but a custodial sentence appears to be a real possibility.
But, what options does Sally have in relation to appeal?
Sally and her legal team must move quickly as an appeal against conviction must be lodged within 28 days of the verdict. An application to appeal can be made ‘out of time’ but there must be a good reason for any delay.
Since we can be rightly critical of her legal team, one of the first decisions may well be whether to instruct new solicitors and counsel to advise.
But whatever the decision made in respect to legal representation, it is important to note that appeals are not to be viewed as an automatic ‘second bite of the cherry’.
The Court of Appeal will only overturn a conviction if it is ‘unsafe’, so Sally’s legal team will need to identify something that went wrong in the trial process; if nothing did go wrong then an attempt at appeal would simply be futile, raising false hopes.
Sally’s best bet will be to continue the battle to clear her name in the hope of finding evidence that points towards Duncan and his framing of Sally.
This is referred to as ‘fresh evidence’ and must be genuinely new evidence that was not available to Sally and her lawyers at the time of trial.
Of course, Sally’s case isn’t real, and we can expect the scriptwriter to exercise some editorial licence when it comes to explaining the intricacies of the law, so don’t take too much notice of the legal wrangling as it inevitably unfolds in future episodes.
In the real world, a wrongful conviction is a most dreadful experience for both defendants and their families, exacting the cruellest toll.