Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED December 4, 2003

Where there was evidence that the defendant had a cigarette packet containing both heroin and cocaine and he was convicted of possession of heroin, but acquitted of possession of cocaine, any inconsistency in the verdicts was not such to cause interference by the Court of Appeal and the conviction was therefore safe.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against conviction for possessing a Class A controlled drug, namely heroin, imposed on 18 February 2003 at Aylesbury Crown Court before HH Judge Maher. On 7 March 2003 the defendant ('D') pleaded guilty to permitting premises to be used for supplying Class A drugs namely heroin and cocaine. He was fined ?100 for the possession and a sentence of three and a half years imposed for the other offences. Police observations were carried out on D's home, which he shared with two co-accused. Numerous visitors were seen to enter and leave the house, staying only a short period of time. The co-accused were seen exchanging what was believed to be drugs outside. A search warrant was executed and on entry a police officer saw D drop a cigarette packet to the floor which contained seven wraps of heroin and eight of cocaine. D admitted using heroin but denied throwing the cigarette packet down saying a co-defendant had knocked it to the floor. He used heroin to make him sleep and was unaware what happened in his home. At trial D was acquitted of possession with intent to supply cocaine and heroin but was convicted in the alternative of simple possession of heroin. D appealed conviction on the ground the verdicts were logically inconsistent as the cocaine was found in the same packet as the heroin.HELD: (1) The burden was on D to show the level of inconsistency was such to cause interference by the Court of Appeal. Given the police officer's evidence that D dropped the cigarette box was under attack, it was perhaps a surprising verdict. However, it was noteworthy that D admitted being a heavy user of heroin. It was possible the jury might have concluded the police officer's evidence was correct and as D was under the influence of drugs he had not appreciated that he had cocaine as well as heroin. Equally the jury might have concluded the cocaine belonged to someone else and D had only intended taking heroin out of the cigarette packet. (2) The prosecution had always said the cigarette packet contained Class A drugs and the offence D was convicted of was not wholly different from the case brought by the prosecution. The verdicts were perfectly logical and the conviction was therefore safe.Appeal dismissed.