R v Blackwell
|England & Wales
|MR JUSTICE MORLAND
|24 February 1995
|Judgment citation (vLex)
| EWCA Crim J0224-20
|Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
|24 February 1995
 EWCA Crim J0224-20
Before: Lord Justice Evans Lord Justice Auld Mr Justice Morland
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL CRIMINAL DIVISION
MR B KEANY appeared on behalf of the Appellant Blackwell
MR McGUINNESS appeared on behalf of the Appellant Farley
MR D TAYLOR appeared on behalf of the Appellant Adams
MR McGREGOR-JOHNSON appeared on behalf of the Crown
Friday, 24th February, 1995
MR JUSTICE MORLAND These appeals will be allowed and the convictions and sentences quashed.
These three Appellants faced an indictment containing two counts.
The first charged them with conspiracy to supply cannabis resin to others between the 1st July and 11th October 1991.
The second charged Jody Blackwell and Ian Adams with possessing 6 rounds of ammunition without holding a firearm certificate contrary to Section 1(1)(b) of the Firearms Act 1968.
They were jointly indicted with Peter Adams, the twin brother of Ian Adams. Jody Blackwell, a young woman aged 17 at the time of her arrest, was the girl-friend of Ian Adams. She had no previous convictions.
Ian Adams was arrested on the 17th September 1991, Farley on the 19th September 1991, Blackwell on the 25th September 1991 and Peter Adams on the 10th October 1991.
They were all committed for trial on the 26th March 1992. In December 1992 Peter Adams breached bail and absconded. He was not re-arrested until the 12th March 1993.
Trial of the three appellants began on the 8th February 1993 but on the 24th February that trial was aborted and the jury discharged.
On the 4th May 1993 Peter Adams pleaded guilty to the conspiracy together with five counts charging him alone with firearms offences in relation to firearms and ammunition in his possession on his arrest on the 10th October 1991.
The second trial of the three appellants began on the 4th May 1993 at the Croydon Crown Court before Judge McHale and a Jury. All three were convicted on the 26th May 1993 on the first count (Farley by a majority of 10–1) On the second count Blackwell was convicted but Ian Adams acquitted by direction of the Judge.
On the 23rd June 1993 Farley and Ian Adams were sentenced to 61/2 years imprisonment. Blackwell was put on probation for 2 years on each count concurrently. Confiscation orders were also made.
On the 17th September 1993 Peter Adams was sentenced by Her Honour Judge Hallan to 2 years imprisonment for the conspiracy but a total of 21/2 years imprisonment which covered the firearms offences and an offence of handling and the conspiracy.
The three appellants appeal against their convictions by leave of the single Judge.
Farley and Ian Adams also appeal against sentence by leave of the single Judge but this judgment only relates to the appeals against conviction.
The case against the Appellants was formidable even at the close of the cases for their defence.
There was in Holland a conspiracy to import cannabis into England. Peter Adams had contact with Dutch conspirators and visited Holland.
In Holland sheets of metal were manufactured with an oblong hole in their centres. The sheets were palletised and in the centre hole bags of cannabis were stuffed. The sheet were consigned to a firm in Batley being shipped via Hull.
The conspiracy alleged against the three Appellants and Peter Adams involved the collection of the pallets in Hull, and their dismantlement in a garage in London so that the cannabis was retrieved and then distributed in England. Peter Adams had the leading role in that conspiracy although Dutchmen were in his company or in contact with him.
Peter Adams had rented a garage in Fulham in March 1991.
A truck was hired by Farley using a false name. On 15th August Ian and Peter Adams and Farley collected the truck in Swindon. It was driven to the garage. The pallets arrived in Hull on the 17th August. On the 19th August Farley collected the pallets. They were loaded on the truck which Farley drove to the garage. On the 21st August Ian Adams bought a plane ticket for his brother Peter. Next day Peter visited Rotterdam. In the following days the three men were frequently seen together. On the 28th August they went to the garage where the cannabis was stored and drove away in convoy. On the 30th August Peter Adams again visited Rotterdam. In the following days the three men bought three cars and a caravan paying in cash amounting to £54,340 produced from a carrier bag.
On the 17th September Ian Adams drove Peter's Jaguar to a garage in Croydon for repair. Under the back seat on the floor two slabs of cannabis were found weighing 2.01 Kilograms.
Ian Adams was arrested. When interviewed he said that the cannabis had come from Morocco via Rotterdam, that he had bought the Jaguar from his brother and that the cannabis was his and that he intended to sell it for £1850 a Kilo.
The garage was searched. The hollowed out steel sheets were there and upon them were the fingerprints of Ian and Peter Adams and Farley.
On the 19th September Farley was arrested but declined to say anything on interview.
On the 25th September Blackwell was arrested in her flat in Coventry. In the spare bedroom there was a holdall which had been taken there by Ian Adams who had driven the Jaguar up from London. In the holdall were twenty bars of cannabis weighing 12.33 Kilograms. In relation to the holdall she told the police that she was not saying whose it was.
Blackwell did not give evidence.
Farley gave evidence stating that he had no suspicion that the pallets contained cannabis. He worked for Peter Adams who always paid him and thought that the jobs that he did were "above board"
Ian Adams gave evidence and said that he had nothing to do with the cannabis. In the interview he was referring to his brother Peter and not himself. Peter was the dominant figure and was very generous to him. He did odd jobs for Peter including tidying up the garage and moving the steel sheets when there was no cannabis there. When his brother returned from Rotterdam, Peter told him his life was in danger. So he had helped to protect him and had stored Peter's holdalls in the Coventry flat.
In order to understand the grounds of appeal and the submissions of Counsel it is necessary to set out in some detail the progress of the trial and the nature and circumstances of submissions made to the Judge.
The prosecution evidence was completed on the 13th May. On that day Counsel for each appellant drew the Judge's attention to the behaviour of a male member of the public in court and expressed the concern that they felt.
Mr Moss for the appellant Farley said:-
"He has been in the Court. Those who have observed him from behind have been conscious of his paying much more attention to the Defendants than to the evidence and coming and going at odd moments. He apparently has stood throughout the adjournment, 1.00 until 2.00 outside the main doors of this building where jurors and witnesses all pass"
"I am anxious about his purpose for being here. It may be entirely innocent but the feeling generally is that it maybe associated in some less savoury way, beyond that we do not know"
Mr Mejzner for the appellant Ian Adams said:-
"The man spoke to Ian Adams. His recollection was that the gentleman said "he had been sent by "his company""
The Judge concluded by saying:-
"I really do not think there is anything in my power to do on what is available at the moment but I hope none of your clients feel discomforted"
On Thursday the 13th May Counsels' concern was somewhat nebulous but it became more concrete on the next day that the Court sat Monday 17th May.
Mr Mejzner said:-
"While my instructing solicitor was walking to court today between 10:00 and 10:15 she saw the juror who sits on the front row next to your Honour with the gentleman who has been in court and they were walking to court together, talking."
"One of the defendants —I think I can say this —Miss Blackwell, felt she had been followed out by him on one occasion. She felt he was trying to overhear her telephone conversations. He has been hovering around outside, if I can put it that way, when defendants and counsel have been talking together and when police have been talking together. Mr Adams was not the only defendant concerned about this and because of his concern he actually spoke to him and asked him what he was to do with the case and he said words to the effect that the firm or the company had sent him. Mr Adams was concerned about the words "the firm or company had sent him".
"Your Honour, I would wish this matter to be investigated"
"I am not going to investigate it"
"I think all counsel confirm that he has been hovering outside. It does appear he has been trying to overhear telephone conversations."
"I am sorry about that and I can see it is an embarrassment and might give rise to some apprehension but the answer is, do not make telephone calls when he is there."
JUDGE McHale said:-
"I cannot exclude a member of the public from court just because people are apprehensive about his behaviour"
Mr Keany for the appellant, Jody Blackwell, said:-
"I did notice the gentleman on certainly one of the early days of the trial, not merely sitting in the public gallery but I would describe it as staring for quite a period of time at the three defendants"
"I would also echo Mr Mejzner's request that Your Honour does at least ask the jury, or that juror in particular, if she has communicated with anyone else regarding this case."
JUDGE McHALE: "I am not going to"
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