The Criminal Cases Review Commission (“CCRC”) has decided to refer six convictions belonging to the same man to the Crown Court.
On various occasions between 2012 and 2014, “Mr I”, who was then a child, pleaded guilty to offences of burglary, robbery, possession of cannabis and failing to comply with a referral order. Due to his age, these matters were dealt with in the Youth Court.
In 2018, the Home Office decided that Mr I had been trafficked both into and within the United Kingdom for the purposes of forced labour and forced criminality. Despite indicators of his trafficked status being present at the time of his arrests for these offences, neither the police, Crown Prosecution Service, courts nor Mr I’s defence lawyers took any action.
As Mr I had pleaded guilty in the Youth Court, the only route for him to appeal his convictions was via the CCRC. Mr I applied to the CCRC in 2019. Following a detailed review of these 6 different cases, the CCRC has decided that there is a real possibility that they will be overturned on appeal.
The CCRC considers that, had the CPS applied its own guidance, it may well have decided that it was not in the public interest to prosecute Mr I, as his offending was a consequence of his trafficked status. Because the CPS failed to investigate the trafficking issue, or to refer Mr I for assessment as required by its contemporary guidance, the CCRC is of the view that these prosecutions may have amounted to an “abuse of process” bearing in mind the UK’s obligations under Article 26 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
Helen Pitcher OBE, Chair of CCRC said:
“This is a sad case involving a trafficked child who was failed by the Criminal Justice System and his lawyers. Had proper enquiries been made and correct legal advice given, it seems likely that Mr I would not have been convicted of these offences.
“On this basis there is a real possibility that the Crown Court would now consider that Mr I’s guilty pleas are “an affront to justice” and that the prosecution of these matters would be an abuse of process.”
Mr I was represented in his application to the CCRC by Philippa Southwell of 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 I 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