Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED December 5, 2003

The disclosure of details of informants would have been of no assistance to the defence, as details the informants gave that it was the co-accused who dealt in drugs was before the jury. There was sufficient evidence before the jury enabling them to convict the defendants of conspiracy to supply heroin.Appeals, with leave of the single judge, against convictions for conspiracy to supply class A drugs, namely heroin, imposed on 19 January 2001 at Newport Crown Court. The first defendant ('H') was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. The second defendant ('C'), who had previously admitted an offence of possession of class A drugs, namely heroin, was sentenced to a total of nine years' imprisonment. The defendants and co-accused ('M') were arrested following a surveillance operation by police. It was the Crown's case that: (i) H was a supplier of drugs on the Isle of White; (ii) the drugs were purchased in London using various couriers, including M; and (iii) C lived with H and knowingly derived profit from the supply of drugs by assisting H in supplying premises to be used for supplies and other dealing. H contended: (a) he was a user of drugs and not a supplier and (b) M was the supplier of drugs and he obtained drugs for his personal use from him. It was C's case that she was not involved in dealing. M pleaded guilty to possession of class A drugs. An intelligence file disclosed to the defence contained a number of reports which showed a number of informants had given evidence to police that M was the supplier. Other informant evidence confirmed the Crown's case that M worked for H. Prior to trial an application was made for the Crown to disclose details of the informants which was refused. At trial M gave evidence consistent with the Crown's case. A renewed application was made for disclosure of informants' details on the grounds that the defence was handicapped by not knowing the source of the reports. The judge refused the application. H and C appealed their convictions on the ground that the judge was wrong to refuse the application to provide the names of the informants.HELD: (1) It was unlikely in the extreme, probably to the point that it could be discounted, that if names had been supplied, the defence would be able to go to the informants and obtain information and then call them to give evidence (2) The matter did not have to be decided on that basis. M denied being a dealer, however, evidence was put before the jury that he had a previous conviction for drug dealing. Further, the jury knew details of the informants' evidence as it was put to M in cross-examination. (3) In those circumstances the jury would have approached the case on the basis that M acted as a courier but also dealt in drugs. The issues were abundantly clear and no jury could have approached the case on the wrong basis. H's conviction was safe. The ground of appeal failed in relation to C but she would be raising a second and distinct ground of appeal on a later date.Decision accordingly.