This is an extract of our Evidence Practice And Principles Voice Identification Evidence document, which we sell as part of our Evidence II: Practice and Principles Notes collection written by the top tier of University College Dublin students.
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VOICE IDENTIFICATION EVIDENCE
Only recently featuring in appellate case law
The procedural safeguards are less developed than for visual identification
Sense that the courts are still feeling their way
Generally called voice recognition evidence or voice identification - recognition being that they contend that they recognise the voice e.g. it is already known to them
Sometimes called auditory identification and aural identification.
DPP v Crowe 
Appellant convicted of sending a menacing message - the offence was intimately connected with the actual voice thus if it wasn't his voice, he was not guilty. The victim here was a garda - a detective sergeant - at home in bed when his work phone rang.
'is that Mr. Smith,' witness replied yes. Caller then said, 'Robert Smith' and at the same he was saying that the Garda said 'Denis Smith' and the caller said, 'Damien smith,' or anyway it's you that I
want. 'You are up on a cross pointing down at me. I want 10,000 euro for your murder.' There was a pause and caller said, 'you're a dead man I want you to understand you're up on a cross.'
The Garda interpreted that statement - you're up on a cross - as a reference to being on a cross that you'd see through a telescopic sight e.g. under surveillance. Viewed through something that had a cross at the mid-point
The next day, Garda went to station. He was shown a video recording of an interview that had taken place between the Gardai at the station and the appellant, Crowe for that phone call. DS Smith said he immediately recognised the voice of the appellant as the voice on the phone. He said at trial that he listened for approx. 15 seconds before indicating that he recognised the voice. The appellant was being interviewed at that time on suspicion and for that exact phone call to DS Smith.
Under cross-examination, he said that when he heard the tape, he knew about the circumstances of the appellant's arrest and knew about the details of the mobile phone that was recovered at the time of arrest. He knew this person was being interviewed in direct connection and on suspicion of this specific offence.
Gave jury Casey No.2 warning in respect of the voice ID evidence - applied it to the phone call -
danger, rationale, multiple people, no matter if honest etc
Differences was the specific conditions - these were given.
On appeal, argued that the voice ID evidence should not have been left to the jury and therefore the conviction was unfair
Edwards JIt is accepted that there are significant infirmities in the voice identification evidence in this case that expose it to legitimate criticisms: Infirmities:
(i)DS Smith knew that the appellant being interviewed was the only suspect in the case, and may thus have been 'subliminally biased' towards a positive identification
Only exposed to one voice, no mode of comparison
His identification was not based on any specific identifying characteristics such as accent; timbre of voice; an attribute or trait such as a lisp; a stutter or a stammer;
usage of colloquialisms or idiosyncrasy in manner of expression; or an individual mannerism such as a reflex clearing of the throat before commencing speaking'thereby rendering it difficult to test its reliability in cross-examination'If the Garda witness was being questioned, it would merely be a case of - how did you recognise this etc - I just did - can't really say, 'because ___'Implies that had the appellant a distinctive characteristic in his way of speaking, that identification based on a singular piece of evidence would be more convincing.
(iii)The pre-trial ID procedure lacked safeguards such as the use of foils for comparison purposes
Witness should've been exposed to a number of voices and asked to pick out which one he recognised
No record was kept concerning which of the appellants recorded interviews, and what exact portion of the recording in question, comprised the 15 second segment of that material which, when it was played to DS Smith, allowed him to identify the appellant's voice as being the same as the voice on the tapeSimilar to how the details of an ID parade is required to be documented and kept, specific details must be kept for voice ID evidence.Essential for cross-examination purposesLook at O'Reilly for reference to what this voice parade type thing would be
Positives pointing in favour of reliabilityThe DS made his identification the day after he received phone call when memory still freshHis evidence was that the content was menacing, and notwithstanding that the voice was non-descript it had resonated immediatelyRecognition instantaneous and expressed with certitude.
Do these remedy the infirmities?
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