The Attorney General v Benjamin Robert Hagin

JurisdictionJersey
CourtRoyal Court
JudgeBailiff
Judgment Date03 September 2020
Neutral Citation[2020] JRC 176
Date03 September 2020
The Attorney General
and
Benjamin Robert Hagin

[2020] JRC 176

Before:

T. J. Le Cocq, Esq., Bailiff, and Jurats Blampied, Ramsden and Hughes

ROYAL COURT

(Samedi)

Superior Number Sentencing — Removing the proceeds of criminal conduct from jurisdiction — possession of criminal property — drugs — supply — possession — Class B — reasons for the decision

Authorities

AG v Hagin [2020] JRC 157.

Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999.

Misuse of Drugs (Jersey) Law 1978.

AG v Goodwin [2016] JRC 165.

R v Monfries [2004] 2 Cr. App. R. (S) 3.

AG v Gomes and others [2007] JRC 129.

Bhojwani v AG [2011] JCA 034.

Campbell v AG [1995] JLR 136.

AG v Gilbraith and Rawlinson [2017] JRC 155

C. R. Baglin Esq., Crown Advocate.

Advocate J-A. Dix for the Defendant.

Bailiff

THE

1

On 4 th August, 2020, we sentenced Benjamin Robert Hagin (the Defendant) for seven counts of money laundering, five counts of offering to supply cannabis and one count of possession of cannabis ( AG v Hagin [2020] JRC 157).

2

Counts 1 to 4, Count 6, and Count 11 on the Indictment were related to the moving of criminal property from Jersey contrary to Article 31(1)(d) of the Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999 and concerned the removal of cash from Jersey on the dates specified on the counts of the indictment as follows:-

  • (i) Count 1 – 4 December 2018 £10,000

  • (ii) Count 2 – 16 January 2019 £10,500

  • (iii) Count 3 – 31 January 2019 £1,980

  • (iv) Count 4 – 25 February 2019 £10,500

  • (v) Count 6 – 13 March 2019 £10,000

  • (vi) Count 11 – 5 April 2019 £10,810

3

Counts 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 were charges of offering to supply a controlled drug to another contrary to Article 5(b) of the Misuse of Drugs (Jersey) Law 1978. All related to cannabis resin and specified the following periods.

  • (i) Count 5 – 5 March — 14 March 2019.

  • (ii) Count 7 – 27 March 2019

  • (iii) Count 8 – 26 March – 29 March 2019

  • (iv) Count 9 – 26 March – 1 April 2019

  • (v) Count 10 – 29 March – 1 April 2019

4

Count 12 on the Indictment related to the possession of criminal property contrary to Article 30(1)(c) of the Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999 and specifically that on 7 th April, 2019, the Defendant had in his possession cash to the sum of £12,690.

5

Count 13 on the Indictment related to the possession of cannabis resin on 7 th April, 2019.

6

The Court adopted the conclusions of the Crown and sentenced the Defendant as follows:-

Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 11 and 12 were imposed concurrently with Count 1 and Counts 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 were imposed concurrently with each other but consecutively to Count 1 making a total of 4 years' imprisonment.

  • (i) Count 1 – from a starting point 5 years imprisonment, a sentence of 3 years imprisonment;

  • (ii) Count 2 – from a starting point of 5 years imprisonment, a sentence of 3 years imprisonment;

  • (iii) Count 3 – from a starting point of 5 years imprisonment, a sentence of 3 years imprisonment;

  • (iv) Count 4 – from a starting point of 5 years imprisonment, a sentence of 3 years imprisonment;

  • (v) Count 5 – 12 months imprisonment;

  • (vi) Count 6 – from a starting point of 5 years imprisonment, a sentence of 3 years imprisonment;

  • (vii) Count 7 – 12 months imprisonment;

  • (viii) Count 8 – 12 months imprisonment;

  • (ix) Count 9 – 12 months imprisonment;

  • (x) Count 10 – 12 months imprisonment;

  • (xi) Count 11 – from a starting point of 5 years imprisonment, a sentence of 3 years imprisonment;

  • (xii) Count 12 – from a starting point of 5 years imprisonment, a sentence of 3 years imprisonment;

  • (xiii) Count 13 – no separate penalty.

7

On the same occasion, we ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and made a Declaration of Benefit, which was not opposed, in the sum of £4,440 with a Confiscation Order in the nominal sum of £1.

8

At the time of sentencing we indicated that we would provide brief reasons on a subsequent occasion. These are those reasons.

9

The facts of the case were fully set out by the Crown in the Statement of Facts but, in essence, on 7 th April, 2019, the States of Jersey Police executed a warrant issued under the Misuse of Drugs (Jersey) Law 1999 at the Defendant's home address. Entry was forced. A number of items were seized including cannabis resin, drug grinders, weighing scales, a postal receipt, a deal book and sheets, £2,690 in cash and a package containing £10,000 in cash addressed to a third party. A second search was carried out on 7 th April, 2019, and a number of other items were seized including more cannabis, deal lists with figures and initials, a deal list, a Jersey post receipt and a notebook of names and figures.

10

In essence from all of the material obtained, the Defendant's answers in interview and various expert reports relating to drugs matters that we have seen, it is clear that there was a significant money laundering operation dealing with the proceeds of the sale of drugs. From the Defendant's own account he would collect money relating to drugs deals from individuals identified to him and when it had been accumulated to a sufficient sum he would send it in accordance with instructions through the post. The information obtained disclosed a number of these actions and these are reflected by the counts in the Indictment. Count 12 relates to a sum in cash found at the Defendant's premises which was in the process of being sent but had not yet been posted.

11

In addition it was clear that the Defendant was offering cannabis for sale. He did not provide the PIN number for the phone on the grounds that there were personal messages between himself and his girlfriend but it is clear from an examination of the phone that the Defendant was offering to supply cannabis to a number of individuals for payment. As far as the phone discloses there were five individuals to whom the Defendant offered drugs. In interview he answered “ no comment” to questions put to him in this area as well as other entries on his phone.

12

The total amount of cannabis resin seized in the Defendant's flat was 3.819 grams.

13

It could not be said that the Defendant was fully cooperative with the Police. He gave some information relating to his habit of bulk buying cannabis for his own use and he did sign a bank authority to allow the Police to access his bank accounts. As explained above, however, he refused to give his PIN number for his mobile phone and gave “ no comment” answers to questions relating to the supply of cannabis or the named individuals to whom monies were sent.

14

During one of his interviews he indicated that he had a personal drugs debt of approximately £5,500 from buying cannabis but he had managed to reduce that debt to £3,000 by collecting and sending money on behalf of others. He indicated that for every £1,000 he collected he would get £25 removed from his drug debt and for every package he sent to England he would get a further reduction. He estimated that he had posted approximately £10,000 to the United Kingdom on five separate occasions.

15

The Defendant does not have a clean record and has some seven previous convictions for 21 offences including, in 2010, possession of cannabis and, in 2013 importation of cannabis. The Defendant on that occasion was dealt with...

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