A recent Judicial Review has ruled that it was not irrational for an individual to be denied bail and remanded in custody even though he had been released following arrest and interview almost two years previously pending conclusion of the investigations.
Helen Holder of Kangs Solicitors outlines the circumstances.
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The Circumstances | Kangs Criminal Defence Team
Iqbal, R (on the application of) v the Crown Court at Canterbury & others 
- On the 11 September 2017, the claimant was stopped at Calais as the sole occupant of a vehicle. Upon search, 14 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of over £1 million was found concealed within the car bumpers. He was arrested and interviewed when he denied any knowledge of the drugs.
- He was then released whilst further investigations were conducted.
- On the 16 April 2019, he attended a follow up interview under caution.
- On the 16 August 2019, he received a Postal Requisition charging him with importation of drugs and requiring him to attend Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on the 18 September 2019.
- At that Hearing the Magistrates refused bail despite objections made on his behalf.
- Subsequently, a bail application was made at the Crown Court and again bail was refused.
- An application for Judicial Review of the decision was made.
The Relevant Law | The Bail Act 1978
The Act provides, inter alia, that a person shall be granted bail except:
- the defendant need not be granted bail if the court is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for believing that the defendant, if released on bail (whether subject to conditions or not) would:
- Fail to surrender to custody
- in taking the decision, the court shall have regard to such of the following considerations as appear to be relevant:
- the nature and seriousness of the offence or default (and the probable method of dealing with the defendant for it);
- the character, antecedents, associations and community ties of the defendant;
- the defendant’s record as respects the fulfilment of his obligations under previous grants of bail in criminal proceedings;
- except in cases of a defendant whose case is adjourned for inquires or a report, the strength of the evidence of his having committed the offence or having defaulted;
- if the court is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for believing that the defendant, if released on bail (whether subject to conditions or not), would commit an offence, while on bail.
- the risk that the defendant may do so by engaging in conduct that would, or would be likely to, cause physical or mental injury to any person other than the defendant as well as to any others which appear to be relevant.
- Bail had been refused in this case on the basis of the nature and seriousness of the offence, the strength of the case and the likely sentence which would follow conviction.
- The claimant submitted that the position he faced was essentially the same as it always had been and that he had kept in touch with the police since his arrest, attended a voluntary interview in Kent and had attended the Magistrates’ Court in response to the Postal Requisition.
- It was ruled that the Crown Court Judge’s decision to withhold bail was not irrational. The Judge was entitled to conclude on the information before her that custody was necessary.
The Tribunal specifically stated that the Judge was not:
“in any way, bound by the police decision to release the Claimant under investigation. Any suggestion that there is some sort of presumption that, whenever a defendant is released under investigation and then complies with all requirements, the Court will subsequently grant bail is misplaced.”
Therefore, even though as a suspect a person may have been released pending investigation, sometimes for years, complied with all asked by the police and attended court in answer to a Postal Charge the Court will consider bail afresh and may remand a defendant in custody. There is never any guarantee of bail once a defendant is charged.
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