The applicant, Ms. Allen, was convicted of manslaughter of her infant son. The court of appeals quashed the conviction on the ground that it was unsafe, as there was new evidence on other ways how to explain the injuries suffered by her son that may have affected the jury’s decision to convict. Ms. Allen applied for compensation for the time she had already spent in jail. Her application was declined as the court stated that the decision of the court of appeals only meant that there are doubts about her injuring her son, not that she had not done it.
Ms. Allen complained that the reasons given for the refusal to award her compensation following her acquittal violated the presumption of innocence
The Court emphasized that there is no single approach to ascertaining the circumstances in which the presumption of innocence will be violated in the context of proceedings which follow the conclusion of criminal proceedings. However, it pointed that the language used by the decision-maker will be of critical importance in all occasions.
In the particular case the Court found that the acquittal of Ms. Allen was not an acquittal in a true sense as it was not acquittal on the merits of the case. The Court also took into account that the criteria for awarding compensation and their application did not infringe on the applicant’s right to be presumed innocent. Additionally, when declining the compensation, the national courts did not use a language suggesting that Ms. Allen committed the crime. The Court was therefore satisfied that the judgments denying the compensation to Ms. Allen did not demonstrate a lack of respect for the presumption of innocence which she enjoys in respect of the criminal charge of manslaughter of which she has been acquitted. Thus there has been no violation of Ms.Allen’s right to a fair trial.