West Law Report

Agreement not a conspiracy

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on July 21, 2008

From The TimesJuly 10, 2008

Agreement not a conspiracy
Court of Appeal, Criminal Division
Published July 10, 2008
Regina v Kenning Regina v Blackshaw Regina v Fenwick
Before Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Lord Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Dobbs and Mr Justice Underhill
Judgment June 24, 2008

An agreement to aid and abet an offence did not constitute a criminal conspiracy.

The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, so held in allowing appeals by David Kenning, Paul Blackshaw and Paul Fenwick against their convictions at Derby Crown Court (Judge David Price and a jury) on November 2, 2007, for, inter alia, conspiracy to aid and abet production of a class C drug.

Mr David Matthew for Kenning; Mr Harry Bowyer for Blackshaw; Mr James Beck for Fenwick, all assigned by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals; Mr Timothy J. Spencer, QC and Mr Andrew Peet for the Crown.

THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE, giving the judgment of the court, said that the appellants were concerned in a business, the Hydropon-ic Centre. Items purchased there had been used to grow cannabis. However, those items might equally have been used to grow plants that could be grown lawfully. There was thus no basis upon which the appellants could have been charged with aiding and abetting the production of cannabis on the simple basis that they had sold the items in question.

The prosecution decided that the answer to their problem was to bring charges in the form that they did.

The appellants submitted that a statutory conspiracy could not be committed unless the acts which the conspirators had agreed to do would, if carried out, result in the commission of a criminal offence.

They contended that the offence of conspiring to aid and abet was unknown to law, relying on the Court of Appeal decision in R v Hollinshead ([1985] AC 975). Their Lordships endorsed that court’s conclusion that an agreement to aid and abet an offence was not in law capable of constituting a criminal conspiracy under section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

Solicitors: CPS, Derby.

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