R v Jovan Edmonds  NZDC 3363
Published 30 July 2016
Propensity evidence — Evidence Act 2006, ss 40, 43.
The defendant was on trial for shooting his friend in the thigh after an alleged argument relating to the defendant’s ex-girlfriend. The defendant admitted to having shot his friend but raised self-defence. These proceedings related to propensity evidence, that is, whether or not the jury should know that in 2011 the defendant had shot a relative in the thigh because he was angry about the way his partner had been treated.
Propensity evidence is defined in s 40 as “evidence that tends to show a person’s propensity to act in a particular way or to have a particular state of mind, being evidence of acts, omissions, events, or circumstances with which a person is alleged to have been involved…”. Section 43 provides that the prosecution can offer propensity evidence only where the probative value of that evidence outweighs the risk that the evidence may have an unfairly prejudicial effect on the defendant.
The Judge concluded that while the evidence had probative value on the issue of self defence it did not lift the Crown case sufficiently enough to warrant the potential prejudice that the defendant would face if the 2011 evidence was heard. The Judge considered there was a real risk that, if the evidence was allowed, the jury would become prejudiced enough against the defendant that they would not be able to listen to his explanation dispassionately. The evidence was thus not admissible.