On 26th July 2013, Coventry Crown Court allowed the appeal against conviction of R v HT on the grounds that he was a victim of human trafficking. HT was a minor when he was convicted of cannabis cultivation charges in June 2012. Philippa Southwell of Birds Solicitors represented this Applicant (the firm did not represent him in the original proceedings). The case was referred the case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) under the exceptional circumstances provision and the case was then successfully referred back to the Crown Court. In light of the recent Court of Appeal judgement R v L, THN & Ors, for which Miss Southwell also represented the Appellant THN. The Prosecution conceded to the appeal and our representations and offered no evidence, the Crown Court then allowed the appeal.
This is an excellent result and another small victory for victims of human trafficking, this however is sadly over shadowed by the fact that the Applicant is now classified as missing person and is believed to be re-trafficked. It highlights the importance of pursing appeals of this nature, even when the Applicant is missing, this is to ensure that they are not re-criminalised, if or when they come into contact with the authorises in the future. It is important that that they are recognised as victims by the sate, rather than criminals so that they have access to the much needed support they are entitled to and to prevent further miscarriages of justice.
Anyone who believes they may have a case which would fit within the criteria and wishes to challenge the conviction should contact us immediately. The case was handled by Philippa Southwell who has a number of such cases ongoing at present.