Former Chief Minister’s private secretary in court for grave and criminal assault

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A CASE involving the former Chief Minister’s private secretary – who stands accused of a number of serious offences – is expected to be determined by the Royal Court in February.

Timothy David Nicolle is accused of breaking into a property, committing a grave and criminal assault and malicious damage on 29 November 2020.

Mr Nicolle was private secretary to former Chief Minister John Le Fondré at the time the offences were allegedly committed.

The Royal Court has already determined that he is not fit to enter a plea or stand trial, but in February the court is expected to address two issues: whether Mr Nicolle did the acts which he is alleged to have committed; and secondly, if he did, whether he had mental capacity at the time.

The case will be heard by the Inferior Number of the Court.

Under a provision in Jersey’s 2016 Mental Health Law, the court can determine that Mr Nicolle was ‘not criminally responsible’, even if they conclude that he had committed the acts he is accused of.

The law also allows the court to reach a ‘special verdict’.

It states that where the court finds that a defendant carried out the act(s) alleged – but at the time of carrying them out, he or she was suffering from mental disorder to such a substantial degree that they ought not to be held criminally responsible for doing so – the court should record a special verdict (‘not criminally responsible’) and may either acquit the defendant or make such an order as it has power to under Article 59 of the law.

Under that article, the court can make a treatment order or appoint a ‘guardian’ – which can be a person or an authority – to take responsibility for the defendant.

Mr Nicolle was released from custody, where he was on remand for almost two years, in September, and is now on conditional bail.

A recent Royal Court hearing before Commissioner Sir Michael Birt, from which Mr Nicolle was excused attendance, determined some of the procedural details of the February hearing, including which witnesses will give evidence.

Restrictions on reporting the case were recently lifted by the court.

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