News Criminal Defence 16th May 2019

Hannah Thomas Appears in the Divisional Court

Hannah Thomas recently appeared in the Divisional Court acting for the appellant in an appeal by way of case stated.

The appellant appealed against the decision of a Judge at the Crown Court sitting at Inner London to dismiss his appeal against conviction for possession of an offensive weapon[1]. The legal argument advanced on appeal related to the interpretation of the defence of “reasonable excuse” for possession of a butterfly knife.

The appellant argued that possession of a knife for work purposes must constitute a reasonable excuse for its possession, and that this defence did not differ based on whether or not the knife in question was also an offensive weapon per se. The appellant submitted that the Crown Court had effectively found that weapons that were offensive per se could not be used as tools, thereby removing the “work” defence from innocent tradesmen. Parliament had made its intention clear in relation to bladed articles, and “use at work” was a defence[2].

The Divisional Court, however, found that the Crown Court had not made a decision that was irrational or perverse. In dismissing the appeal, the Court held that an “innocent reason” (which would include use at work) for carrying an offensive weapon will not necessarily amount to a reasonable excuse for possessing it.

Following the decision of the Divisional Court, Hannah successfully defended a costs application made against her client, resulting in no costs being awarded against him in the appeal.

The full judgement, reported as Garry v Crown Prosecution Service [2019] EWHC 636 (Admin), was handed down by Rafferty LJ on 19 March 2019 and can be found here.

The case has recently been reported in the law reports, and has been summarised in the Times, and Counsel Magazine.

Hannah was instructed by Anna Jemmison of LLM Solicitors.

[1] Contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953.

[2] Section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

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