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Drug-smuggling conviction quashed by Court of Appeal

A London man who was serving a 12-year prison sentence following his conviction for importing drugs has had his conviction quashed at the Court of Appeal this week (November 13th 2012).

Adekunle Akanbi-Akinlade’s conviction was quashed and no retrial ordered, in light of new evidence concerning the credibility of a key witness which proved his conviction was unsafe.

Mr Akanbi-Akinlade had been stopped at London Heathrow Airport as he returned on a flight from Nigeria. The handles of his suitcase were found to contain cocaine however he has always denied his knowledge of the drugs concealed and was transporting the suitcase because it had been loaned to him.

He was subsequently convicted on 2nd May 2007 at Isleworth Crown Court of being knowingly concerned in a fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on the importation of goods contrary to Section 170(2)(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. He was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment.

Correna Platt, appeals partner at Stephensons Solicitors LLP represented Mr Akanbi-Akinlade. She made submissions on his behalf to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, who then referred the case back to the Court of Appeal.

Correna added: “At trial, evidence from a key prosecution witness was read to the jury under the hearsay provisions introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, as the witness claimed to be too frightened to attend in person. Our client was thereby deprived of his chance of cross examining her about her reliability. Her evidence was always disputed and as a result of the submission made to the CCRC and their subsequent investigations, the matter was referred to the Police.

Following a police investigation, evidence did come to light that the key prosecution witness in our clients trial had lied . She was subsequently charged and has since been convicted of perverting the course of justice. “

“I am therefore delighted at the decision by the Court of Appeal to quash my client’s conviction and we expect he will be released from prison imminently, yet nothing can rectify the loss of time he has spent in prison.

“We would like to take the opportunity to thank the Criminal Cases Review Commission for their investigation into his case and decision to refer it back to the Court of Appeal.”


Notes to editors:

  • Stephensons’ appeals team deals with serious and complex crimes and has a national reputation for investigating and challenging miscarriages of justice. The team has succeeded in persuading the Criminal Cases Review Commission to refer more than 20 cases back to the Court of Appeal.
  • Stephensons has 30 partners and around 350 staff across a network of eight offices in Altrincham, Manchester, Wigan, Bolton, Leigh and St Helens. For more information, visit www.stephensons.co.uk.

Media information:  Lianne Tracey
                                     Stephensons Solicitors LLP
                                     Tel: 01616 966 229
                                     Email: lct@stephensons.co.uk