The Criminal Cases Review Commission (“CCRC”) has decided to refer the convictions of “Mr J” to the Crown Court.
In 2015, Mr J (then aged 15) pleaded guilty in the Youth Court to offences of downloading and possessing indecent images of children. He was sentenced to a 6-month referral order.
Mr J had told his parents about the images who, in turn, reported the matter to the police. Mr J initially told the police that he had downloaded the images whilst looking for legal pornography. However, during a later interview, he said that he had been directed to the images by a third party in an online chatroom.
After careful scrutiny of his case, the CCRC has decided that there is a real possibility that the Crown Court will allow Mr J to vacate his guilty pleas and would not now convict him of these offences. The CCRC considers that the circumstances in which Mr J was incited to download the images made him a victim of sexual exploitation rather than an offender and that the prosecution therefore amounted to an ‘abuse of process’. Mr J’s previous lawyers didn’t make this argument to the CPS, nor did they advise him of defences to these charges which may have succeeded.
Helen Pitcher OBE, Chair of CCRC said:
“Unfortunately, the worrying circumstances of this case were not properly considered by the police, the CPS or defence lawyers at the time – and for these reasons we have decided to refer it to the Crown Court.
“The CCRC is hopeful that the Crown Court will now consider that Mr J’s earlier guilty pleas are “an affront to justice” and that the prosecution of these matters would be an abuse of process.”
Mr J was represented in his application to the CCRC by Just For Kids Law.
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: email@example.com.
Notes to Editors
- The CCRC has decided to anonymise this press release on the basis of Mr J’s age at the time of his conviction.
- 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