Prosecuting Victims of Modern Slavery and Trafficking: Does s 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 Have Retrospective Effect?: R v CS [2021] EWCA Crim 134

Published date01 June 2021
AuthorNeil Parpworth
Date01 June 2021
Subject MatterCase Notes
Case Note
Prosecuting Victims of Modern
Slavery and Trafficking: Does
s 45 of the Modern Slavery Act
2015 Have Retrospective Effect?
RvCS[2021] EWCA Crim 134
Modern slavery, criminal offences, statutory defence, retrospective, presumption against
Two separate and otherwise unconnected applications for permission to rely on fresh evidence, and
permission to appeal against conviction and sentence, were heard together because they raised similar
issues in connection with the prosecution of victims of trafficking. In the case of the first applicant (CS),
a separate issue arose as to the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) to entertain an
application for permission to appeal where the applicant had been convicted in the Magistrates’ Court.
On 28 June 2015, CS pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court to two offences of possession of a Class
A drug (crack cocaine and heroin) with intent to supply. She also pleaded guilty to offences of driving a
vehicle without a licence or insurance. Her case was committed to the Crown Court for sentence. On 30
November 2015, in the Manchester Crown Court, CS pleaded guilty to a further six offences of supply-
ing a Class A drug. Subsequently, she was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in respect of each of the
drugs counts, the sentences to be served concurrently. Her driving licence was endorsed with six penalty
points for driving without insurance, and no separate penalty was imposed in relation to driving without
a licence. Separate offences relating to the possession of a bladed article (a saw) and an offensive
weapon (a hammer) were ordered to lie on the file.
At the point at which CS would otherwise have been released from prison, she was detained under
immigration powers pending deportation. Having taken advice from a new legal team, she was referred
to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). The Competent Authority decided that she was a victim of
slavery, servitude or forced or compulsory labour because she had been required to participate in the
supply of drugs in order to repay a debt owed to a friend. CS had been intimidated by her friend and her
friend’s colleagues. The Competent Authority also found that she had been ‘too scared to tell the police’.
The second applicant (L) pleaded guilty in the Wolverhampton Crown Court to the offence of
producing a Class B drug (cannabis) which had been cultivated at a shop premises. The street value
of the 562 plants had been estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds. In sentencing L to 16
months’ imprisonment, the recorder noted that he had been ‘a gardener in a sophisticated set-up, growing
staggered crops of cannabis for commercial sale’. His trial had been preceded by a referral to the NRM as
to whether L was a victim of trafficking or modern slavery. The Competent Authority had concluded, on
the balance of probabilities, that he was not a victim. However, following his conviction, the fact that L
The Journal of Criminal Law
2021, Vol. 85(3) 236–239
ªThe Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00220183211006552

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