Court of Appeal quashes conviction of victim of trafficking

Last week, in R v AZE, the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) quashed a conviction, nearly 3 years out of time, of an age disputed Vietnamese minor found in a cannabis factory. Maya Sikand QC acted for the appellant. The appellant had a trial, relying on the s.45 Modern Slavery Act defence and the fact that he was a minor.

A flawed age assessment asserting he was over 18 and a negative conclusive grounds decision were put before the jury. The judge failed to direct the jury on the under 18 provisions in s.45, which did not require the jury to be satisfied of compulsion. Furthermore, fresh evidence showed that he was in fact under 18 and was now accepted to be a victim of trafficking by the Single Competent Authority.

Maya used the retrograde case of Brecani [2021] EWCA Crim 731to the appellant’s advantage to argue that the negative SCA decision should never have been before the jury.

Maya Sikand QC was instructed by Philippa Southwell of Birds Solicitors.