Steven Micklewright of Kangs Solicitors outlines the recent decision of R v Johnson [2017] EWCA Crim 189

In that decision, the Court of Appeal have confirmed that, for the purpose of establishing the commission of an offence of conveying ‘list A’ or ‘list B’ articles into prison, the Crown simply have to prove that the offender knew that he was carrying something prohibited into prison and not that the offender knew precisely what the item was.

The Law | Kangs Advisory Solicitors

Under the Prison Act 1952, it is a criminal offence to convey or cause another person to convey a ‘list A’, ‘list B’ or ‘list C’ item into prison.

The legislation defines what type of items fall into which of the three categories.

List A’ items include; drugs, explosives, firearms, ammunition and any other offensive weapon. People convicted of conveying a ‘list A’ item into prison can face up to 10 years in prison.

List B’ items include; alcohol, mobile telephones, cameras and sound recording devises. People convicted of conveying a ‘list B’ item into prison can face up to 2 years in prison.

List C’ items include; tobacco, money, clothing, food, drink, letters, papers, books, tools and any information technology. People convicted of conveying a ‘list C’ item into prison are restricted to receiving a fine.

The only two defences available under the legislation are reasonable belief of authorisation and public interest.

The facts of R v Johnson [2017] EWCA Crim 189 | Kangs Criminal Team

‘J’ was caught smuggling a package into prison for a prisoner. The package contained oxymethalone pills (‘list A’), mobile sim cards (‘list B’) and the synthetic cannabis known as ‘spice’ (‘list C’).

‘J’ pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court to the ‘list C’ item but pleaded not guilty to the ‘list A’ and ‘list B’ items, which resulted in a Crown Court trial.

‘J’ sought to argue at his trial that he had been pressurised to take the package into prison and that he believed that the package only contained ‘spice’. In essence, ‘J’ accepted knowledge of the ‘list C’ item but denied any knowledge of the ‘list A’ and ‘list B’ items.

‘J’ argued that the Crown had to prove that he had knowledge that there were ‘list A’ and ‘list B’ items in the package. This was rejected and ‘J’ was convicted.

‘J’ then appealed to the Court of Appeal but the appeal was refused. The Court of Appeal stated;

‘The Crown had to prove that J knew that he was carrying something prohibited into the prison, but it did not have to prove that he knew precisely what it was. Once he knowingly conveyed a package containing prohibited articles, he became criminally liable for conveying its contents, whether or not he was fixed with specific knowledge of them’

Where Can We Help? | Kangs Criminal Specialists

It is clear from the sentences described above, that conveying prohibited articles into prison is a serious offence, with penalties ranging from anywhere between a fine and 10 years in prison.

Kangs Solicitors have represented clients who have faced prosecution for conveying prohibited articles in to prison, from items being smuggled in through the visiting process to drugs being flown in to prison using drones.

If you face arrest, charge or trial for this type of offence, then please do not hesitate to contact us through the following.

Sukhdip Randhawa
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396

Steven Micklewright
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396