Production of Class B Drugs: Modern Slavery Defence Success
We represented a client who was arrested for production of cannabis. The police executed a search warrant on a property and recovered in excess of 100 cannabis plants. Once detained, our client stated that he was happy the police were there. It appeared he and his co-defendant were sharing one small bedroom in the property with one bed.
Sonn Macmillan Walker attended to represent this client at the police station. He told us he was being forced to work producing cannabis by an Albanian gangster to whom he owed £8000, the fee charged to bring him to the UK. He explained that the gang had made threats to harm his family if he did not work at the property. Despite these circumstances, the Defendant and his co-defendant were charged.
Aysha Moore was instructed to prepare his Crown Court case and noted modern slavery as a key issue, meaning that our client could be afforded a defence under s.45 Modern Slavery Act 2015. We were able to obtain bail and to postpone this client’s plea being entered, with credit preserved, while we investigated the viability of this defence. Unfortunately, our client’s co-defendant entered a guilty plea and was sentenced as his solicitors did not consider this defence.
After obtaining more detailed instructions, Mrs Moore made the referral request to a First Responder, who assesses possible victims of human trafficking and gathers information for referral to the Competent Authority. We were pleased to then obtain a determination from the Competent Authority confirming our client was a victim of human trafficking. We informed the Court and Prosecution of his s.45 defence. Despite this, the Crown still pursued the prosecution.
On 6 May 2020, after our second detailed letter of representations, the Prosecution agreed to discontinue the case and not guilty verdicts were recorded for our client. He therefore maintained his good character and obtained the assistance he needed to claim Asylum in the UK.