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Tuesday, 14 November 2006


Bid for dream home gives game away

From BAILII comes R v Valentine [2006] EWCA Crim 2717, a Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) decision that was decided last Friday.

After the police seized a tablet press, a packaging and drying machine and (among other things) large quantities of Stanazol and Viagra tablets from his premises, Mr Valentine pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class C drugs as well as conspiracy to contravene sections 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994 and 8 of the Medicines Act 1968. But what should be done with him?

While the police said the factory could make up to 500,000 fake tablets per day, Valentine said his actual profit from the illegal business was a mere £81,000. Following his sentence (five and a half years' imprisonment), confiscation proceedings were initiated, to see how much could be clawed back from Valentine's criminal activities.

In this appeal what the Court had to decide was whether an offer made by Valentine to pay £1,225,000 in cash for a house, which he made just one day before he was arrested, was evidence that he had hidden assets. At trial the judge, finding as a fact that Valentine had hidden assets worth £800,000, made confiscation orders to the value of £1,216,940.63, the alternative being another seven years' imprisonment. Valentine appealed, argung that there was substantial injustice in the judge's finding that he had hidden assets of £800,000 based on his offer to purchase a house. He also objected that the term of imprisonment in default was manifestly excessive.
The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal, considering that the trial judge had already substantially discounted the likely value of Valentine's assets when fixing the sum to be confiscated. Since Valentine offered no alternative evidence, the judge's perfectly reasonable conclusion would stand. The prison sentence in default of payment was fine too, seeing as the judge could have made it 10 years but didn't.

The IPKat would dearly love to know what happens to the money once it has been confiscated. Can he and Merpel have some of it so they can use it as a kitty ...?

Asset Recovery Agency here
Valentine's Day here
Valentine's Day Massacre here
Valentine's Day cards here [IPKat advisory: only for people with a strong stomach for sentimental gush and an immunity to the totally banal]

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