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The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, we are responsible for:

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
  • reviewing cases submitted by the police
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Court of Appeal rejects tobacco smugglers' attempts to write off confiscation orders worth more than £2.7m

18/03/2015

On Tuesday 17 March 2015, The Court of Appeal rejected an attempt by Robert Doran and Patrick Gray to write off confiscation orders made against them for £1,456,325.00 and £1,244,982.44 respectively, finding in favour of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

In March 2013, Robert Doran and Patrick Gray were convicted of conspiracy to fraudulently evade the duty chargeable on the importation of cigarettes following the discovery by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of two containers of cigarettes being smuggled into the UK from Dubai via Hong Kong to the dock at Felixstowe.

In October 2013, the applicants lodged an appeal on the following grounds:

  1. The Judge at Ipswich Crown Court was wrong to find that the applicants incurred a liability to pay excise duty and VAT as HMRC took control of the cigarettes' "controlled delivery" as soon as they entered the country and therefore had lost control;
  2. Even if they were liable to pay duty, on the facts, they did not obtain any criminal benefit for the purposes of the asset recovery legislation as the cigarettes were seized by HMRC and not sold;
  3. The confiscation orders made by Ipswich Crown Court were disproportionate and contrary to Human Rights legislation.

The Court of Appeal dismissed all grounds of the appeal on Tuesday 17 March 2015.

Lorraine Lally of the CPS Proceeds of Crime Service said: "Robert Doran and Patrick Gray are serious criminal fraudsters who cannot be allowed to wriggle out of paying what is owed to the British taxpayer.

"Organised criminals need to understand that there are consequences to their actions and that these are not limited to custody in prison. Tax revenue raised from the legitimate sale of cigarettes is used to fund vital public services and frauds against this system are serious criminal offences.

"This was a hard fought and lengthy appeal which clearly demonstrates our determination to ensure that nothing stands in the way of criminals respecting the orders made against them."

Background:

Ipswich Crown Court calculated the benefit figure to be £4,368,975 - representing the duty evaded and the unpaid VAT. The court then "apportioned" that figure by dividing it equally between the two defendants and a third man, O'Meara, now deceased.

In August 2013, the CPS gave notice of an application for leave to appeal against the confiscation orders made at Ipswich Crown Court on the single ground that the Court had been wrong to apportion benefit. In addition to rejecting the appeal put forward by the defence, the Court of Appeal, on 17 March 2015, quashed the order made by the Judge at Ipswich Crown Court apportioning benefit between the three defendants. An increased order therefore will be made for the full amount of benefit being £4,368.975 against Robert Doran. Patrick Gray's order is reduced to £148,107.44 as agreed between the parties and the Court as his available assets have reduced.

The CPS will now pursue the enforcement of the two orders in full, having already identified the assets necessary.

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2014 we employed a workforce of approximately 6237 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2226 prosecutors and 3629 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  4. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.