R v AK



Citation (2020) Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)

The appellant was living in a hostel when the police executed a search warrant and found heroin and cash among his belongings. There was a subsequent delay of 3 years before trial. The prosecution case was that the cash came from the sale of drugs, and that the Appellant intended to supply the heroin for profit. He was interviewed under caution twice by police, during which he admitted to possession of the drugs but denied any intent to supply. He claimed that he had never supplied drugs and stated that they were for personal use. He maintained this defence throughout the course of proceedings.


7 years before the allegations in this case the Appellant had pleaded guilty to attempting to supply heroin to an associate who was in police custody. The previous conviction was adduced in the trial in this case firstly to correct a false impression given by the appellant in police interview, secondly to show that the Appellant had a propensity to commit offences of the kind charged.


The Court of Appeal ruled that evidence of the Appellant’s bad character had been wrongly admitted. There was no good reason why the interview could not be edited to correct any false impression, and the circumstances of the previous offending were markedly different to the present case. The prosecution’s case at trial was circumstantial and the evidence of the previous conviction may have been prejudicial to the Appellant. The Court additionally ruled that the trial judge had misdirected the jury on adverse inferences arising from the Appellant’s decision to answer “no comment” to some questions in interview. Together with the wrongful admission of the previous conviction, this had “tipped the balance”, and the conviction was unsafe. The appeal was allowed, and the conviction quashed. No retrial was ordered.

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