Conviction overturned for victim of human trafficking

R v O : R v N [2019] EWCA Crim 752

In the conjoined cases, two recognised victims (N and O) of human trafficking sought permission to appeal against their convictions for cultivation of cannabis and controlling prostitution for gain. O also appealed against her sentence of five years’ imprisonment. N and O both relied on the post-conviction fresh evidence relating to their official status as victims of trafficking. The court considered the safety of the convictions and whether it had been in the public interest to prosecute them.

The case of N concerned a Vietnamese victim of trafficking who had been convicted of production of cannabis. The role of trafficking victims’ as gardeners is well known. Offending commenced immediately after the applicant was brought to the UK and had been compelled to act as he did, and there was a relevant nexus between the offending and his trafficked status. N had been consistent throughout with his account regarding his exploitation. The court held that the conviction was unsafe, N was a victim of trafficking and there was a nexus and compulsion associated with the trafficking. It would be unjust not to allow N to rely on the fresh evidence, and the public interest did not require prosecution. The court found that the conviction was unsafe and the conviction was quashed.

In the case of O it was held that there was no nexus between her status as a trafficking victim and the offending. It was held that O’s status as a victim did not establish nexus or compulsion at the relevant time. The public interest required prosecution in O’s case. The trial judge would have dismissed any abuse of process argument suggesting otherwise.

The cases were prepared by Philippa Southwell.

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