Ernesta & Ors v R (CN 23/2016) [2016] SCSC 277 (13 April 2016);


Criminal  Side: CN 23/2016

Appeal  from Magistrates  Court   decision  FH. No 36/2016

[2016] SCSC  277






First Appellant



Second Appellant



Third Appellant









Heard:8 April 2016

Counsel: Mr. Clifford  Andre  Attorney  at Law for Appellants

             Mr. David  Esparon  , Principal  State Counsel  for the Republic

Delivered:13 April 2016



Burhan  J



[1]       The  aforementioned    three  Appellants   were  produced   before  the  learned  Magistrate   as suspects   under  section   101  (1)  (a)  of  the  Criminal   Procedure   Code  (CPC)  read  with section  100 and an application  was made  by the prosecution,   for further  holding  in police custody  under section  101 (1)  (b) of the CPC.


[2]       The application  was made  in accordance  with section  101 (2) of the CPC  and the learned Magistrate   after  hearing  the  submissions   made  on  behalf  of all parties,  made  order  that the three suspects  be detained  in police custody  until the  11 of April  2016.


[3]       The Appellants  seek to appeal  on the following  grounds:



a.          the said order violated  the constitutional   rights of the Appellants.



b.         the facts  as set out in the affidavit  did not support  the allegation  of Conspiracy  to import controlled  drugs as no controlled  drug was taken  into custody.


c.          there was no evidence  to substantiate  a further  holding  of the Appellants  in police custody.


[4]       In regard  to the  submission   of learned  counsel  for the Appellants   that  the constitutional rights  of the  suspect  have  been  violated,  learned  counsel  for the  Appellants'    submitted that the affidavit  dated 28th  March  2016 states that when  the rights  of the Appellants  were explained  to them,  they  had chosen  their  right to remain  silent.  Despite  this, the affidavit further   states  that  the  Appellants   were  interviewed   and  certain   information   obtained. Learned  counsel  for the  Republic  submitted  that  at the time  of arrest,  the  constitutional rights were explained  to them as this was the usual procedure  but this did not preclude  the Appellants  from being  subsequently  interviewed.


[5]       Based on the argument  of learned  counsel  for the Appellants,  it is admitted  by him in his own  submission   that  the  Appellants   were  made  aware  of their  constitutional   rights  and cautioned.  Thus  it cannot  be said that  their  constitutional   rights  were  never  explained  to them.  The  evidential  value  of any subsequent   statement  made  by them  is a matter  for a trial court to decide.  It would  be too premature  to decide this issue at this stage.


[6]       The  next  ground  urged  by  learned  counsel  for  the  Appellants   was  that  the  offence  of Conspiracy   was not made  out as the controlled  drug was not recovered.   Learned  counsel for the  Republic   submitted   that  subsequent   to  the  application   the  said  controlled   drugs were  in fact  taken  into  custody.  It is the view  of this  court  that  learned  counsel  for  the Republic  should  bring  such  important  information   to the  notice  of the  relevant  court  by way of a subsequent  affidavit  at the earliest opportunity.


[7]        In regard  to  the  submission   of learned  counsel  for the Appellants   that  as  no controlled drug was found,  the offence  of Conspiracy  cannot  be maintained,  it is apparent  from case law that the offence  of Conspiracy   is completed  when two or more persons  agree to do an unlawful  act or to do a lawful  act by unlawful  means,  Archbold Pleading Evidence and Practice in Criminal Cases 42"d edition 28-4.   The overt  act (actus  reus)  is the  stage  of parties  agreeing (emphasis  added)  to carry  their criminal  scheme  into effect.  The essence of  Conspiracy    is  the   agreement.   Archbold   2012   Criminal  Pleading  Evidence  and Practice 33-5.



[8]        The very plot  is the criminal  act itself: Mulcahy v. R. (1868) L.R. 3 B.L. 306 at 317;; R. v. Meyrick and Ribuffi,  21 Cr.App.R. 94, CCA. Nothing  need to be done in pursuit  of the agreement:  O'Connell  v. R. (1844) 5 St. Tr. (N.S.) 1,.repentance,   lack of opportunity  and failure   are  all  immaterial:    R.  v. Aspinall   (1876)   2  Q.B.D.  48.   As  the   essence   of Conspiracy  is agreement,  withdrawal  therefrom  goes to mitigation  only:  R. v. Gortat and Pirog [1973J Crim.L.R. 648, Crown Court (Cusack J.).


[9]        Therefore,   case  law  clearly   reveals  that  it  is  not  necessary   in  order  to  complete   the offence  of  Conspiracy   that  anyone    thing  should  be done  beyond  the  agreement.    The conspirators   may  repent  and  stop,  or may  have  no opportunity,   or may  be prevented,   or may  fail.    Nevertheless    the  crime   is  complete:   it  was  completed   when   they  agreed Archbold 2102  (supra).


[10]                In regard  to the intention  (mens  rea) in the offence  of Conspiracy,   I would  draw attention to the case  of  R v Anderson  [1986J AC at para E   (followed  in the case  of Republic  v Livette Assary  SC (Criminal Side) 19 of 2009) where  Lord Bridge  held as follows:


"But beyond the mere fact  of agreement, the necessary mens rea of the crime, in my opinion, established if, and only if, it is shown that the accused, when he entered into the agreement, intended to play some part in the agreed course of conduct in furtherance of the criminal  purpose   which  agreed  course  of conduct  was  intended  to achieve.  Nothing less; nothing more is required".



[11]    In the light of the aforementioned case law and readings, based on the definition of the offence of Conspiracy, I am inclined to disagree with learned counsel and hold that learned counsel's contention, that as the controlled drugs has not been found, the offence of Conspiracy cannot be maintained, bears no merit. It is my view that section 28 of the Misuse of Drugs Act in relation to Conspiracy must be interpreted in accordance with the aforementioned case law.


[12]    Learned  counsel  further  submitted,  there  was  no evidence  to  substantiate  a  further holding of the suspects  in police custody. I have considered the facts set out in the affidavit dated  28th   March 2016. I am  satisfied that the  learned  Magistrate too,  has considered carefully the facts stated therein and the submissions of learned counsel for the Appellants, prior to making order that the  Appellants  be further  detained.   It  is apparent that it was not only the seriousness of the offence that the learned Magistrate considered  but  other  relevant  factors  i.e.  the  fact  that  the  investigations  were  not complete, the difficulties in investigating such serious offences which requires analysis of equipment and data and also the possibility of potential witnesses being interfered with, thereby obstructing the course of justice.


[13]     I am satisfied the learned Magistrate (Mr. B. Adeline) cannot be faulted on his finding in respect of the facts as set out in the affidavit dated 28th  March 2016 which in my view too, suffices, to establish reasonable grounds for believing that the holding of the Appellants beyond the period  of 24 hours as specified in section  100 of the CPC is necessary.


[14]      The appeal  stands  dismissed.






Signed, dated and delivered  at He du Port on l3  April 2016


M Burhan

Judge of the Supreme Court