The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has concluded it cannot refer for appeal the drug smuggling convictions of Jonathan Beere, Scott Birtwistle, Jamie Green, Daniel Payne and Zoran Dresic.
The men were tried together at Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court on charges of conspiring to import 255 kilogrammes of cocaine.
On 2 June 2011 all five were convicted of the conspiracy by a majority verdict of 11 to one. Jonathan Beere, Jamie Green and Zoran Dresic were sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment. Daniel Payne was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment and Scott Birtwistle to 14 years’ detention in a Young Offender Institution.
Mr Green tried to appeal against sentence and conviction but was unsuccessful. Mr Dresic tried to appeal but his grounds were ineffective. Mr Birtwistle tried to appeal against his conviction but was unsuccessful. Mr Beere and Mr Payne tried unsuccessfully to appeal against their sentences.
This means that, notwithstanding the Commission’s decision in this case, Mr Beere, Mr Dresic and Mr Payne can still approach the Court of Appeal to seek leave to appeal against their convictions and Mr Birtwistle can still seek leave to appeal against his sentence.
All five men applied to the CCRC at various points during 2014 and 2015. All were represented by the Centre for Criminal Appeals.
After the initial applications, their representatives made additional submissions to the Commission on 26 separate occasions during the review (not including submissions made following the provisional decision not to refer the case which was made in February 2017).
Following a lengthy and detailed investigation into the cases which considered all of the submissions received and a number of other issues, the CCRC has not identified any new evidence or legal argument that it considers capable of raising a real possibility that the Court of Appeal would quash the convictions. For that reason the convictions cannot be referred for appeal. The decision not to refer the case was taken by a single Commissioner
The Commission’s analysis of the case and its reasons for the decision are set out in detail in a 78-page document called a Statement of Reasons. That document was sent to the Centre for Criminal Appeals on 22 November 2017.
Statutory restrictions on disclosure mean that the Commission cannot make its Statement of Reasons public. There are no such restrictions on the men or their representatives. Indeed the CCRC invites them to consider publishing the document (on the Centre for Criminal Appeals website), or making it available on request, in order that anyone following the case can understand the CCRC’s review and the reasons for the decision not to refer these convictions for appeal.
A number of issues relating to the case and the CCRC’s review have already been discussed in public and in the media.
Listed in the table below are a number of the issues in the case along with the numbers of the paragraphs where are discussed in the Statement of Reasons.
A summary of the principal reasons why the CCRC is unable to refer the case appears at points (i) to (viii) of paragraph 192 of the Statement of Reasons.
|Allegations of police misconduct|| Paragraphs 42 to 82
|Integrity of OLEX data|| Paragraphs 83 to 87
|Non-disclosure in the case of R v McGuffie||Paragraphs 88 to 100
|The Galwad-Y-Mor’s navigation in the wake of the MSC Oriane.||Paragraphs 108 to 149|
|The drugs anchored at Freshwater Bay||Paragraphs 150 -169
 The Commission’s role in relation to alleged miscarriages of justice involves applying the “real possibility test” that set out in Section 13 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It says the Commission can only refer a case to relevant appeal court if : the Commission consider that there is a real possibility that the conviction, verdict or sentence would not be upheld were the reference to be made.”
 In cases where a referral to the appeal courts appears to be a possibility, the decision will be considered by a committee made up of three Commissioners. However, in cases where, following a review, there seems to be no prospect of the case being referred, a decision not to refer can be taken by a single Commissioner.
 See sections 23, 24 and 25 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995.
This statement was issued by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. For further enquires call 0121 233 1473 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
- The 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.
- There are currently 12 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.
- The Commission usually receives around 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Typically, around 3.5%, or one in 29, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.
- 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”.
- If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.