The Criminal Cases Review Commission (“CCRC”) has decided to refer to the Crown Court the conviction of young man who was trafficked to the UK in 2016 and later found working in a cannabis farm.
In May 2017 before a Youth Court, acting on the advice of his lawyer, Mr K, then aged 17, had pleaded guilty to the production of cannabis.
At the time of his arrest, charge, conviction, and sentencing there was evidence that suggested that Mr K was a credible Victim of Trafficking. However, when deciding whether to prosecute Mr K, the CPS failed to follow its own guidance around victims of trafficking. There is also new evidence that Mr K was a child victim of modern slavery and that his offending was a direct consequence of his trafficked situation. In these circumstances, Mr K may have had a defence under section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 but his lawyers at the time did not advise him of this.
Following a detailed review of this case, the CCRC has decided that there is a real possibility that the section 45 defence would have succeeded in this case and that the prosecution of Mr K amounted to an abuse of process. There is therefore a real possibility that Mr K’s conviction will be overturned on appeal.
Helen Pitcher OBE, Chair of CCRC said:
“This is a sad case involving a vulnerable trafficked child who was also a victim of modern slavery. Had CPS guidance been followed, and the correct legal advice given, it seems unlikely that he would have been convicted of these offences in the first place.”
Mr K was represented in his application to the CCRC by Birds Solicitors.
This press release was issued by the Communications Team, Criminal Cases Review Commission. They can be contacted by phone on: 0121 232 0900 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editors
- The CCRC has decided to anonymise this press release on the basis that there are specific safeguarding concerns in respect of Mr K due to his status as a victim of trafficking.
- The CCRC is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently 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 11 Commissioners who bring to the CCRC 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 CCRC usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts.
- The CCRC 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.
- More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk. The CCRC can be found on Twitter @ccrcupdate and Instagram the_ccrc