R v Lucas (Ruth)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date19 May 1981
Judgment citation (vLex)[1981] EWCA Crim J0519-8
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Docket NumberNo. 5458/A/79
Date19 May 1981
Iyabode Ruth Lucas

[1981] EWCA Crim J0519-8


The Lord Chief Justice of England (Lord Lane)

Mr. Justice Comyn


Mr. Justice Stuart-Smith

No. 5458/A/79



Royal Courts of Justice

MR. W. TAYLOR appeared on behalf of the Appellant.

MR. D. BLAIR appeared on behalf of the Crown.


This is an appeal pursuant to leave of the full Court by Iyabode Ruth Lucas against conviction at Reading Crown Court on 23rd November 1979 on two counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion on the prohibition of the importation into this country of a controlled drug, namely cannabis, contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The first count was in respect of an importation on the 12th December 1978 through Gatwick Airport and related to 25.17 kilogrammes of the drug; the second was in respect of an importation some two months later through Heathrow Airport of 18.12 kilogrammes. In both cases the appellant had arrived here from Nigeria.


The jury first brought in a verdict of guilty on the Heathrow count. That verdict was unanimous. Then, after a majority direction, they returned 22 minutes later giving a ten to two majority verdict of guilty on the Gatwick count.


The learned Judge sentenced the appellant to three years' imprisonment on the Heathrow count and two years' imprisonment on the Gatwick count to run concurrently.


In both counts the appellant was charged together with a man called Fritz Emanuel Bastian. Bastian originally pleaded not guilty to the Gatwick count but guilty to the Heathrow count. During the trial he changed his plea to one of guilty on the Gatwick count also.


The appellant and Bastian were admittedly together on both occasions. On the first occasion they were accompanied by a man called Crike Areh. Areh was charged independently with an offence in the terms of the Gatwick count, pleaded guilty to it at Lewes Crown Court, and was sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment. He took no part at all in the Heathrow matter. At the trial of this appellant and Bastian, Areh gave evidence in detail implicating both of them in the Gatwick count. The only material point in this appeal is whether the learned Judge gave a correct direction on the question of corroboration of Areh's evidence.


Mr. Taylor, for the appellant, therefore directs his main attack against the Gatwick conviction, that is count 1, but seeks to keep alive his contention that the conviction on count 2 (Heathrow) is tainted by any defect in the conviction on count 1.


We can dispose of that matter at once. The fault which we are constrained to say occurred in respect of the Gatwick count does not, in our judgment, in any way affect the validity of the conviction on the second, the Heathrow, count. The learned Judge most carefully pointed out to the jury that the two counts were separate and had to be considered by them separately. That they fully heeded that direction was plain from the different form of their verdicts; unanimous in regard to the Heathrow count, a ten to two majority in respect of the Gatwick count. It only remains to say of the Heathrow count that there was very strong evidence implicating the appellant and that the keys of the suitcase containing cannabis which Bastian tried to smuggle through customs were found shortly afterwards in the appellant's fur coat. His and her attempted explanation that he put them there unknown to her was plainly and understandably rejected by the jury. The appeal in respect of the second count fails.


What Mr. Taylor says about the Gatwick count is this. Areh was undoubtedly an accomplice; therefore it was incumbent upon the Judge to give the usual warning to the jury about the dangers of convicting on his uncorroborated evidence, and then to point out any potentially corroborative facts. There is no dispute that the warning was given in impeccable terms. The complaint is confined to the way in which the Judge directed the jury as to what might be considered by them as corroboration.


Having explained to the jury that they were entitled to convict on the evidence of the accomplice even though uncorroborated, provided they heeded the warning of the dangers of so doing, he went on to explain that such corroboration could sometimes be found in the evidence of the defendant herself. He correctly directed the jury that when a defendant tells lies, there may be reasons for those lies which are not connected with guilt of the offences charged and that one of their tasks would be to decide, if the defendant had told lies, what was their purpose.


He went on to say: "In the same way it is said that the defendant lied to you on various matters, and you will consider those aspects…… If you weigh the defendant's evidence, if you reject it on many aspects, you are entitled to say: 'Why has this evidence, which we the jury reject, been given to us by the defendant?' If there is only one possible answer – for example, that Mr. Areh, though wholly unsupported, was telling the truth – you are entitled to give your answer to that question in your two verdicts, providing you bear in mind my warning to look for independent support of the evidence of a tainted man."


Apart from that passage, there is nothing in the...

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