An Overlooked Distinction in the Modern Slavery Defence

Published date01 February 2024
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/00220183231223832
AuthorNeil Parpworth
Date01 February 2024
Subject MatterCase Notes
An Overlooked Distinction in the
Modern Slavery Defence
ADG and BIJ v R [2023] EWCA Crim 1309
Keywords
Drugs offences, modern slavery defence, jury directions, mistake, unsafe convictions
The f‌irst (ADG) and second appellants (BIJ) were 17 years old at the time of the appeal. They were
granted anonymity pursuant to s.45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. At the time
of the events to which their trials related, they had been between 14 and 16 years of age. Both had
been convicted of two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs (contrary to s.4(3)(b) of the
Misuse of Drugs Act 1971), one count relating to cocaine and the other to diamorphine, and had each
been sentenced to a 3-year Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO). ADG had also been convicted on his
own plea of two counts of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs, and BIJ had been convicted
on his own plea of three counts of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and two counts of pos-
session with intent to supply class A drugs. In respect of these additional offences, they were both sen-
tenced to further 3-year YROs to run concurrently.
The appellantsconvictions had arisen out of a police investigation into a County Linedrug
dealing operation which had involved the supply of drugs from Liverpool to users in Devon. Both
accepted that their roles in the conspiracy to supply class A drugs had involved being at the end of
a telephone line used for supplying drugs, sending messages advertising drugs for sale, and collecting
and delivering drugs. It was submitted on their behalf that they were entitled to rely on the statutory
defence to be found in s.45(4) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. This provides that a person does
not commit an offence where they were under 18 at the relevant time, where they did the act
alleged to constitute the offence as a direct consequence of being, or having been, a victim of
slavery or a victim of relevant exploitation, and where a reasonable person in the same situation as
the accused, and having the accuseds characteristics, would do the act in question. In their evidence,
both appellants explained that they had been threatened whilst being involved in the supply of drugs
and that they had been compelled to do various acts.
The trial judge provided counsel with a draft of his proposed directions and agreed to remove one to
the effect that traff‌icking had not arisen in the present case given that the appellants had made journeys
from care homes to sell drugs which had been arranged by others. In his direction to the jury as to what is
modern slavery, the trial judge made reference to compulsionon a number of occasions. In so doing, it
was argued on behalf of ADG and BIJ that the trial judge had wrongly directed the jury that it needed to
be established that there was, or may have been, compulsion in order for the appellants to be able to rely
on the s.45(4) defence.
Held: Allowing the appeals and quashing the convictions, that the statutory defence in s.45(4)
of the 2015 Act, which applies to under 18 s only, does not include the requirement to show compul-
sion. Accordingly, in circumstances where the trial judge had added in another element to the defence
which the law does not require, and in circumstances where it was not possible to say that the jury
were not inf‌luenced by that additional step on the routes to verdict, the convictions were therefore
unsafe.
Case Note
The Journal of Criminal Law
2024, Vol. 88(1) 7073
© The Author(s) 2024
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/00220183231223832
journals.sagepub.com/home/clj

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