A BSQ client has had his sentence significantly reduced by the Court of Appeal. The Appeal Judges reduced the sentence imposed for drugs charges for BSQ client SK from 16 years to 10 years at London's Criminal Appeal Court yesterday, accepting our submissions that there was no evidence SK was a major player in a drugs gang.
33lb of cocaine had been found at our clients address. The Prosecution claimed he had a "leading role" in importation and distribution.
The Defence disputed their assertion his business was a cover for the drugs, stating that it was "an ordinary and genuine business run by his family for generations" and claimed SK did not have a lead role. He stood only to make a modest return from the drugs he was storing.
Lord Justice Leggatt said: "These submissions have some force. The sentencing judge was not justified in attributing to him a leading role."
"There are, in this case, exceptional circumstances which justify a reduction in the sentence that would otherwise be appropriate," he said.
"We quash the sentence of 16 years and substitute one of 10 years. To that extent, this appeal is allowed."
The decision is significant as although not a binding precedent it does demonstrate that the Appeal Courts will scrutinise prosecution assertions that those involved in drugs offending hold “leading roles’ within criminal organisations.
If a defendant’s role is wrongly defined, the mechanistic application of proscribed tariffs in the SGC guidelines can lead to manifestly excessive sentences such as that of SK. Applying the sentencing guidelines for serious drugs cases anyone said to be in a leading role and convicted of importing or supplying over 5kg of cocaine faces a starting point of sentence of 14 years within a range of 12- 16 years.
SK was represented by BSQ partner Goran Stojsavljevic who specialises in representing individuals in serious drugs and organised crime cases. Counsel was Richard Furlong of Carmelite Chambers.
Read more at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-45501775
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