Rio Shaklah Thomas v HM Advocate

5th June 2014

Background

On 17th January 2011, police forced entry to a property on Urquhart Road. The appellant, Ms. Thomas, along with her co-accused TB, was found in the property although it was tenanted by someone else. Various items were recovered, including “wrapping”, a pipe, a coaster with a substance, a razor blade on the coaster and a set of scales.

Both the appellant and TB were searched. Ten bags of cocaine and 16 bags of heroin were found on TB. A key to a room in a guesthouse was found on the appellant. Inside the room was found 22 packets of heroin and 74 packets of cocaine.

Two years later on 27th August 2013, the appellant was convicted of the following charges:

“ … being concerned in the supply of heroin (charge 1) and cocaine (charge 2) on 17 January 2011 at an address in Urquhart Road and in a guest house in King Street, both Aberdeen, contrary to section 4(3)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The sheriff sentenced her to a total period of 3½ years imprisonment. ”

Ms. Thomas was sentenced by the sheriff to a period of 3.5 years imprisonment. Her co-accused, TB, was made subject to a Community Payback Order.

Appeal

The appeal argues that the sheriff erred in rejecting the submission of no case to answer. Originally this claim was a general one that there was insufficient evidence that the appellant had knowledge, possession or control of the drugs in the guesthouse. Furthermore, it alleged there was a lack of evidence that she was aware there was any supply operation taking place. It continued that other persons had access to the room at the guesthouse and that there was no evidence pertaining to who had owned the bag containing the large amounts of drugs. Finally, the appeal highlighted that there were no drugs found on the appellant during the police’s forced entry on 17th January 2011.

The appeal made a second claim that the sheriff ought not to have considered the existence of TB’S pre-existing conviction when arriving at his decision.

Conclusion

The respondent argued that there had been ample evidence that the appellant had been involved in the way libelled in the charges. She was found to have links to two separate addresses which contained drugs. Additionally, both quantities of drugs were found in large quantities and in close proximity to one another. The appellant was also in possession of £600 in cash and has at no point provided an explanation as to how she came into possession of the money. The respondent continued, saying it was also legitimate to infer that she had been one of the two people to rent the guest house room because to the keys to, and receipts for, the guest house room were found on her person.

The respondent admitted that it is true that a conviction of a co-accused cannot be used at the trial of a different co-accused. If the sheriff drew any inference from the existing conviction he was wrong to do so.

However, even without this the weight of TB’s conviction there is adequate evidence to infer that the appellant was involved in the supply of drugs on both original charges. Therefore, the appeal against conviction is refused.

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