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Colin Witcher, instructed by Lawtons Solictors, appeared successfully before the Court of Appeal in respect to an appeal against sentence. The defendant, a former accounts’ manager had been sentenced for theft following a late change of plea, having previously faced a fraud trial. Colin succesfully argued that the sentence imposed was manifestly excessive; the Court reduced the starting point adopted by the sentencing judge by 12 months. Colin was commended for the quality of his written work and his brevity in oral submissions before the Court.
That appeal followed a successful unrelated appeal against conviction. Colin was instructed on behalf of the Appellant in a case where it was discovered, by fresh evidence, that the drugs within his possession were a legal mix of caffeine and paracetamol, and not heroin as thought by the Appellant who was by his own admission a runner. The case highlights the potential dangers of relying upon field testing by the police when advising clients. To that end, it transpires that if legal drugs have been wrapped in clingfilm which has previously been into contact with an illegal substance, a false positive reading may result at the field test stage irrespective of the contents of the wrap.
The Court of Appeal were minded in all the circumstances to substitute the offence of possession with intent to supply for an attempted act of supply. Thereafter the Court were persuaded by submissions described as “admirably concise” and “made with force” to revisit the sentence. The Court were minded to go further than to simply make a deduction to reflect an attempt, but to revisit the corrrect sentence for the appellant based on role in the light of the fresh evidence. Colin was instructed by Bennett and Co, Solicitors.
Colin Witcher is a member of Chambers’ Criminal Appeal Group.
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