Commission refers the conviction and sentence of Manochehr Bahmanzadeh to the Court of Appeal

Manochehr Bahmanzadeh was convicted in July 2008 at Plymouth Crown Court of permitting his nightclub to be used for the supply of class A drugs.

Mr Bahmanzadeh was the owner of The Dance Academy nightclub in Plymouth. In 2006, undercover police officers carried out a series of test purchases of ecstasy tablets from dealers in the club.

That evidence formed part of the prosecution’s case that Mr Bahmanzadeh was aware that drugs were being sold in his club and that he allowed it to happen.

Mr Bahmanzadeh pleaded not guilty to the charges; his defence was that he had done all he reasonably could to prevent the supply of drugs and that he had neither permitted drugs to be supplied, nor turned a blind eye to drug dealing.

Mr Bahmanzadeh was convicted and sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment. He was sentenced on the basis that he deliberately permitted the premises to be used for the supply of drugs in order to boost the reputation of the club and increase its profits.

Mr Bahmanzadeh’s appealed in 2008, but lost the appeal. He applied to the Commission for a review of his case in January 2011.

Having carried out a detailed investigation of the case, the Commission has decided to refer the conviction to the Court of Appeal because it believes that new evidence regarding the credibility and reliability of witness testimony gives rise to a real possibility that the Court of Appeal will quash Mr Bahmanzadeh’s conviction.

The Commission has also referred Mr Bahmanzadeh’s nine-year prison sentence to the Court of Appeal because it considers that, even if the Court upholds the conviction, there is a real possibility that it would reduce the sentence.

Mr Bahmanzadeh is represented by Hickman & Rose Solicitors, Aylesbury House, 17-18 Aylesbury Street, Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DB. 020 7702 5331

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.

2. There currently nine Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.

3. The Commission receives around 1,000 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Our current rates of referral are around 4%, which means around one in 25 of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.

4. The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.