R v Karl Robert Benjafield and Others

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Judgment Date21 December 2000
Judgment citation (vLex)[2000] EWCA Crim J1221-12
Docket NumberCase Nos: 1999/04792/W2 2000/06057/X5 2000/04778/Y4
Date21 December 2000

[2000] EWCA Crim J1221-12



Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London,



The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

Lord Justice Judge and

Mr Justice Collins

Case Nos: 1999/04792/W2




Karl Robert Benjafield
Manoj Leal
Syed Rezvi
David John Milford

MR A MITCHELL QC and MR K TALBOT appeared on behalf of THE CROWN


MR J FARMER attended on behalf of THE CROWN

MR C RUSH appeared on behalf of MANOJ LEAL

MR A MARSHALL attended on behalf of THE CROWN

MR T OWEN QC and MR G SUMMERS appeared on behalf of SYED REZVI

MR S WINBERG attended on behalf of THE CROWN

MR D OSBORNE appeared on behalf of DAVID JOHN MILFORD

MR A MAITLAND attended on behalf of THE CROWN



These appeals, which are otherwise wholly unconnected, raise the stark question whether the statutory provisions which govern the making of confiscation orders under the Drug Trafficking Act 1994 (the "1994 Act") and the Criminal Justice Act 1988, as amended by the Proceeds of Crime Act 1995 (the "1988 Act"), are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.


A further appeal, R v Milford, which raised the same question, was also listed for hearing. However Milford appealed against his conviction. That appeal has now been decided. The appeal against sentence, and in particular the confiscation order made against him, had been adjourned. The adjournment serves to illustrate one critical aspect of the domestic statutory code, which is that without a relevant conviction, there is nothing to trigger the confiscation process or to sustain a confiscation order. As Milford's appeal against conviction has now succeeded, the confiscation order against him cannot survive.


The appeals also raise a number of distinct issues in relation to the individual confiscation orders made in each case. These will be dealt with in later hearings.

Karl Benjafield


The essential facts are straightforward. In the summer of 1997, the appellant conducted a business in drugs from his home in Norfolk. He was at the centre of a conspiracy to bring large quantities of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis resin and amphetamines into the area, and then to distribute them to dealers for onward supply. A group of associates carried out the purchase and sale of drugs on his behalf. Many of them were subsequently convicted of drug trafficking offences. The appellant never used drugs personally, profit was his only motive, and his profit from this conspiracy was considerable.


On 8 September 1998, in the Crown Court at Norwich before His Honour Judge Downes, Benjafield pleaded guilty to one offence of conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs and one offence of conspiracy to supply class B controlled drugs. The dates covered by the conspiracies were 6 May 1997 to 24 July 1997. On 9 October, Benjafield was sentenced to 14 years and 5 years imprisonment concurrent on the two counts.


Confiscation proceedings under s.2 of the 1994 Act were postponed on more than one occasion. For present purposes, the precise circumstances of these postponements are irrelevant. Therefore dealing with the facts briefly, the prosecutor's statement dated 8 October 1998 noted that Benjafield had not been in remunerative employment nor taken up any statutory benefits since 1995. He had been living with his partner, Mandy Keable, (who was convicted of conspiracy with him and received a suspended sentence), and their children at an address in Great Yarmouth which they bought on mortgage on 29 July 1996.


Shortly before that date, in May 1996, they had bought another residential but derelict bungalow in their joint names, in 1986 another property, "The Bentleys", was bought in the appellant's sole name. This was lived in by his parents. The appellant's remaining property interests were found in two addresses in Cobholm, the first bought in June 1992 in his father's name, but run by the appellant who received and dealt with all the income from the property, and the second, "Blackgates Farm", conveyed into the name of his mother in 1996, but again controlled by the appellant who obtained the necessary planning permission consents to erect a large building on the site. The appellant also held a property in Spain, originally purchased in 1987. The Crown alleged that this property was held in the joint names of the appellant and his mother, and also relied on a receipt in his name indicating payment for the property.


In addition to these properties, cash (approximately £10,000) and jewellery (valued at £35,000) was found at the appellant's home or the home of his "mother-in-law", and there was evidence to show that he had spent considerable sums on living, and that he had made impressive loans, totalling some £30,000.


The appellant had a number of bank accounts in joint names with Mandy Keable. Between 1991 and 1997, unidentified bankings totalling £52,355 were made into their account with Lloyds Bank, and between 1995 and 1997, £25,456 was deposited from unidentified sources into their account with the Halifax Building Society.


The total of the alleged benefit added up to £360,487. The traced realisable assets were calculated at £185,890.


The appellant sought to provide evidence to demonstrate that the inclusion of three of the properties in the calculation of his alleged benefit was erroneous. Dealing with the issues very briefly for present purposes, the property in Spain belonged to his father, but had been conveyed into his name for tax avoidance reasons. The person with the real interest in "The Bentleys" was his father. Tax, and health reasons, were given for the arrangement. Blackgates Farm belonged to his mother.


After a lengthy hearing into these issues, it was perfectly plain that the judge felt unable to accept the evidence of the appellant's father, and when the appellant eventually gave evidence, the appellant himself. The judge recorded his conclusion that the evidence of the appellant was "something of a joke" and that he could not be relied on "in any way whatever ….. He (was) quite incapable of belief".


Accordingly, on 1 July 1999, making allowance for a shortfall which represented "hidden assets", a confiscation order was made in the sum of £327,971, to be paid within two years, with a sentence of three years imprisonment in default to run consecutively to the sentence imposed on 9 October 1998.

Manoj Leal


Leal, and three co-defendants, were the subject of a National Crime Squad surveillance operation carried out on two particular dates, 1 December and 10 December 1998. The Crown's case was that they were all involved in a major conspiracy to supply large quantities of controlled drugs to others. The appellant was the person in control of the enterprise. In due course the police seized drugs, including cannabis, cannabis resin, and cocaine, with a wholesale value approaching £1 million, which formed the organisations current stock in trade.


Leal was convicted on 28 July 1999 in the Crown Court at Harrow, before Her Honour Judge Freedman and a jury, of a number of offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. On the following day, he was sentenced to a total of twelve years imprisonment which, on 12 June 2000, was reduced by the Court of Appeal to nine years imprisonment.


The prosecutor's statement was largely, and convincingly, based on an "accounting" ledger. From this it was calculated that the "take" from the sale of unlawful trafficking in drugs was £1,879,504. Expenditure on drugs was calculated at £984,268. With a number of additional items, this produced a total benefit of £2,892,873. The realisable assets which the police could trace amounted to £24,793, but the Crown argued, and the court subsequently concluded, that a good deal of money remained hidden and untraced which was "awaiting the defendant's release from prison".


On 27 June 2000, Judge Freedman considered the defendant's statement and his oral evidence, together with that of his common law wife, and unhesitatingly rejected it. In calculating the confiscation order, the judge deducted the expenditure on drugs (£984,268) which left a balance of £1,908,605. She made a confiscation order in that sum, to be paid within two years, with four years imprisonment consecutive in default.

Syed Rezvi


Rezvi was convicted of dishonesty, arising in the course of his employment as an assistant financial controller at a hotel in London. He worked there for some 9 years. By the time of his arrest, his annual salary was £23,000. In February 1999, the police were asked to investigate two thefts of £5,000 each from the hotel. When the appellant was arrested, he admitted stealing £10,000 by telling the cashiers to order two separate sums of £5,000 from the bank. The thefts took place on the 2 and 12 February respectively. Security consultants were called in. They discovered that between April 1997 and February 1999 losses totalling approximately £283,000 had taken place at the hotel. These losses were attributed to transactions conducted by the appellant.


When Rezvi appeared on 11 October 1999 in the Crown Court at Snaresbrook, the indictment against him included 14 specimen counts, 11 of theft, and three of obtaining a money transfer by deception. The total sums involved in the 14 counts was £35,105. None of the individual sums specified in the individual counts exceeded £5,000. On arraignment, before His Honour Judge Izzard-Davies, the appellant pleaded guilty to the last two counts, which related to the thefts on 2 and 12 February 1999. He pleaded not guilty to the remaining counts. The Crown indicated that it would be seeking a trial of the remaining counts, and the case was accordingly adjourned for...

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