A man who pleaded guilty to producing cannabis, despite being a victim of human trafficking has had his conviction referred to the Crown Court.
Mr ‘Q’ was trafficked from Vietnam as a child in 2013 for the purposes of forced labour. In April 2017 he was convicted at Warrington magistrates’ court of cultivating cannabis and sentenced to 20 months custody. The CCRC believes that there is a real possibility that the Crown Court will overturn his conviction, as the legal advisors who represented him at court did not inform him about a possible defence under s.45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Helen Pitcher OBE, Chairman of CCRC said:
“Our review has found that this young man has been let down by a wide range of agencies involved in his prosecution.
“We believe there is a real possibility his conviction will be quashed because the guidelines suggest he should never have been prosecuted in the first place.
“It is vital that everyone involved in the criminal justice system is aware of the law to prevent further miscarriages of justice, but sadly we are seeing too many applicants with cases like this.
“Anybody who thinks they may have been wrongly convicted in similar circumstances should contact the CCRC about their case.”
Mr Q first came to the attention of the authorities in 2014 but subsequently went missing from local authority care. He was likely re-trafficked within the UK. In 2015, shortly after his disappearance, the Home Office determined that Mr Q was a victim of trafficking.
Two years later, in 2017, Mr Q was arrested inside a cannabis farm and pleaded guilty in the magistrates’ court to a single count of cultivating a class B drug. In 2018, the Home Office, again, concluded that he was a victim of human trafficking.
The CCRC’s review has established that as a victim of trafficking Mr Q had a defence under the Modern Slavery Act which would quite probably have succeeded. The legal advice he was given in 2017 overlooked this defence and the CCRC has concluded that there is a real possibility that an appeal against this conviction will now succeed.
Mr Q was represented in his application to the CCRC by Philippa Southwell of Southwell & Partners.
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This press release was issued by the Communications Team, Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Tel: 0121 232 0900: Email: email@example.com.
[Update 19/8/23: The conviction was quashed in June 2023]
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 Q 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 King 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