Nick Dowse Prior Inconsistent Statements in Cross-Examination
Prior Inconsistent Statements in Cross-Examination – Structure of Answer
These may be either written or oral.
As counsel is cross-examining the other party’s witness, no need to prove witness is adverse before
any PIS can be put to them in cross-examination.
Section 18(1) QEA allows cross-examining counsel to go and prove that the witness made a PIS,
subject to satisfying requirements of s 18:
• Witness is being cross-examined? [Yes].
• Former statement is relative to the main facts in issue?
IF relative to MFII
Here, [fact] is main fact in issue because goes to proving [element of action].
IF not relative to MFII
Here, [fact] is collateral not main fact in issue because it is about [credit]. Thus s 18 has no
application & s 101 will apply such that PIS is deemed to be the truth. Cross-examining counsel
can still go ahead and prove PIS was made but will only affect credit of witness (eg. bias).
However, must satisfy finality rule.
• Former statement is inconsistent with present testimony (PIS is made)? [Yes].
• Witness given opportunity to admit they made a PIS?
Must mention to the witness the circumstances of the supposed statement sufficient to identify
the statement and occasion and witness must be asked whether they made the PIS: s 18(2)
(reflects rule in Browne v Dunn)
• Witness does not distinctly admit or deny that they made the PIS?
Possible responses by witness of a PIS in cross-examination:
(1) IF admit that they made PIS and that it is true
• PIS becomes part of the witness’s testimony but only goes to the credit of the witness
• The PIS is not being proved pursuant to s 18 and s 101 will not apply either
(2) IF admit that they made the PIS but that it was NOT true
• The PIS is deemed to be the truth pursuant to s 18 and s 101
(3) IF does not distinctly admit or deny that they ever made the statement
• Prove that the witness made the PIS (using evidence of another witness eg. call police
• The PIS is deemed to be the truth by virtue of s 18 and s 101 – jury directed must accepted
PIS as true evidence.
• The weight attached to the PIS is a matter for the jury (s 102). Considering:
(a) Contemporaneity (time between when PIS made and incident – closer in time, the
(b) whether maker of PIS has incentive to conceal or misrepresent facts (eg. knows one of
the parties involved in the case)
s 18 QEA – Proof of previous inconsistent statement of witness
(1) If a witness upon cross-examination as to a former statement made by the witness
relative to the subject matter of the proceeding and inconsistent with the present
Page 1 of 5 Nick Dowse Prior Inconsistent Statements in Cross-Examination
testimony of the witness does not distinctly admit that the witness has made such
statement, proof may be given that the witness did in fact make it.
(2) However, before such proof can be given, the circumstances of the supposed
statement sufficient to designate the particular occasion must be mentioned to the
witness and the witness must be asked whether or not the witness has made such
R v Mursic
• Accused charged with violence against own wife
• During an argument threw petrol over her and lit her on fire
• His wife was interviewed by police after the assault in hospital and she told them that the
accused (her husband) bashed her and set her on fire
• By trial the wife had reconciled with her husband and the Crown did not call her to give evidence
• The wife instead gave evidence for the defence – favourable to the accused
• In cross-examination by the Crown, it was put to her that she had given this statement to police
which was accordance with the Crown case
• The wife agreed that she had made a statement to the police but denied that what she told the
police was true because she had been ill at the time (upset, in hospital)
• Was the statement made to the police relevant to the subject matter of the proceedings (i.e. the
main facts in issue – grievous bodily harm)? – YES
• Held that s 18 permits proof of PIS put to witness upon cross-examination if he ‘doesn’t distinctly
admit that he has made such statement’
• The wife never distinctly admitted what was contained in the statement was what she told
• By virtue of s 18, her PIS (to police that her husband bashed her and set her on fire) was
admissible of evidence of any fact stated therein of which oral evidence would be admissible
• Section 101 then applied to make her PIS evidence of the truth of its contents
Here, there is a written PIS.
1. Is the document made, verified or adopted by the author?
IF NO – not made by author [FIRST LIMB OF QUEENS CASE]
Here, document is not made by [witness] or adopted by [witness] by their signature. As witness is not
author – s 19 does not apply. Apply Queen’s case (limb 1) instead. Counsel cannot read the
document to the Court unless it has already been admitted.
IF YES – made by author
Here, yes the document is made by [witness] / adopted/verified by [witness] by their
signature/acknowledge on oath (Eg. police witness statement)
2. Is the statement in writing relative to the subject matter?
IF YES (MFII)
Here, [PIS] is main fact in issue because goes to proving [element of action]. Therefore, s 19
will be applied. Counsel may cross-examine witness without showing the document: s 19(1)
QEA. However, witness must be directed to those parts of the document which are alleged to
show the inconsistency: s 19(1A) QEA. Court may compel cross-examiner to produce
document and court may use