The Attorney General v Darius James Pearce

CourtRoyal Court
JudgeJ. A. Clyde-Smith O.B.E.,Jurats Thomas,Ronge,Austin-Vautier
Judgment Date04 August 2021
Neutral Citation[2021] JRC 203

[2021] JRC 203




J. A. Clyde-Smith O.B.E., Commissioner, and Jurats Thomas, Ronge and Austin-Vautier.

The Attorney General
Darius James Pearce

M. R. Maletroit Esq., Crown Advocate.

Mr Pearce appeared on his own behalf.

( Advocate I. C. Jones attended to assist the Court).


AG v Pearce [2021] JRC 182.

AG v Thurban Sait Brown Riles Roy Wolff Hughes [2020] JRC 212.

AG v Goodwin [2016] JRC 165.

AG v Fish and Hinds [2016] JRC 181A.

AG v Michel [2007] JRC 120.

AG v Bojwani [2010] JRC 116.

AG v Rae and Spinola [2017] JRC 080.

AG v Hagin [2020] JRC 157.

Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999.

AG v Brennan [2016] JRC 234.

Hagin v AG [2020] JCA 247.

R v Cairns [2013] EWCA Crim 467

Superior Number Sentencing — converting the proceeds of criminal property — reasons for the sentence imposed


On 5 th July 2021, the Defendant was sentenced to a total of 7 1/2 years for three counts of money laundering offences for which he had been found guilty by the Inferior Number, following a six-day trial which ended on 17 th December 2020 ( AG v Pearce [2021] JRC 182). We now give our reasons.


The case stems from what is described by the prosecution as the most complex drug related and money laundering investigation ever undertaken by the Jersey authorities. The operation culminated in the seizure of MDMA, cocaine and cannabis resin, with a street value of up to £919,000 imported by yacht at Bel Val Bay on 21 st June 2019. Seven of those involved in the importation were sentenced by the Superior Number on 23 rd September 2020, following guilty pleas ( AG v Thurban Sait Brown Riles Roy Wolff Hughes [2020] JRC 212).


Such an operation requires the movement of cash from Jersey to the UK where the drugs were sourced. A variety of methods were used by members of the enterprise to launder money, including physically carrying the cash out of the Island; a risky undertaking, as evidenced by the seizure of £30,000 in cash hidden in the boot lining of the car of one of the members of the enterprise.


The Defendant's involvement came to the attention of the authorities when members of the enterprise were seen going into his shop in the market, from where he conducted a jewellery and gold bullion business through his company. He facilitated the movement of cash in the following way:

  • (i) A sum of cash would be handed to him in his shop by a member of the enterprise.

  • (ii) The Defendant would deposit that cash in his personal and business bank accounts.

  • (iii) The Defendant would purchase gold bullion from a dealer in London.

  • (iv) The gold or its proceeds of sale would be made available to members of the enterprise in the UK.


The Defendant was convicted of laundering money in this way on three separate occasions, namely on 13 th March 2019, 24 th April 2019 and 1 st May 2019. Whilst the precise amount of money received by the Defendant for laundering is unknown, the prosecution put its case on the basis that the gold bullion purchased from the London dealers (for a combined sum of £63,917) was funded using criminal property on behalf of the criminal enterprise.


The prosecution referred us to the case of AG v Goodwin [2016] JRC 165, which summarised the principles to be considered when sentencing money laundering offences, namely that:

  • (i) There is not necessarily a direct relationship between the sentence for the laundering offence and predicate offence. Where, however, the predicate offence can be identified, some regard will be had to the appropriate sentence for that offence when considering the appropriate sentence for the laundering offences.

  • (ii) The criminality in laundering is the assistance, support and encouragement it provides to criminal conduct.

  • (iii) Regard should be had to the extent of the launderer's knowledge of the predicate offence, but the Court has subsequently considered that a lack of knowledge is not to be treated as a mitigating factor (see AG v Fish and Hinds [2016] JRC 181A at paragraph 3).

  • (iv) The amount of money laundered is a relevant factor.

  • (v) No distinction is to be drawn as a matter of law between the laundering of one's own proceeds of crime and the proceeds of crime committed by third parties.

  • (vi) The duration, sophistication and scale of money laundering are all relevant considerations.

  • (vii) The interest of Jersey as a finance centre justifies a deterrent element.


Applying these principles, the Court agreed with the prosecution that the predicate offence here was the trafficking in Class A and B drugs in commercial quantities, imported into the Island to be sold and consumed here, with the damage that does to our society. The seriousness of the predicate offences can be shown by the sentences imposed by the Court on the members of the enterprise, ranging from 8 years 2 months' imprisonment for the defendant Riley (from a starting point of 14 years 6 months) to 14 years 3 months' imprisonment for the defendant Hughes (from a starting point of 19 years). The amount of money laundered was substantial and in effect, the Defendant provided a money laundering service, crucial for the funding of the enterprise. The method used by him was sophisticated and it involved the use of a Jersey company.


The prosecution referred the Court to a number of cases for comparative purposes. We accept that the cases of AG v Michel [2007] JRC 120 and AG v Bojwani [2010] JRC 116 are now no longer comparable; the sentencing policy has moved on. We were referred to the case of AG v Rae and Spinola [2017] JRC 080 and AG v Hagin [2020] JRC 157, where sentences of 4 years were imposed for offences that were less sophisticated. In Goodwin itself, the amount involved was £596,893 laundered over some five years and the Court considered that a starting point of between 11 and 12 years was appropriate, having regard to the starting points for the predicate drug offences. The defendant was sentenced to 6 years' imprisonment, taking into account his guilty plea, his good character, his remorse and cooperation.


The defendants Roy, Riley, Hughes and Wolff also pleaded guilty to money laundering offences. In the case of Hughes, he was the Defendant's co-accused in counts 11 and 12, for which he received a concurrent sentence of 4 years' imprisonment following a guilty plea and mitigation. The prosecution's case is that the Defendant undertook a very different and more sophisticated form of laundering than his co-defendants, whose involvement was limited to a physical handover of cash or the removal of cash from the jurisdiction on a flight to London. The prosecution say the Defendant is far more culpable than Wolff, for example, who was only a cash courier using unsophisticated means. The prosecution submitted that the Defendant's laundering activities should be sentenced more severely than the laundering activities of his co-defendants.


The prosecution took a starting point of 8 1/2 years for each count to be applied concurrently. From that, the prosecution allowed a year for mitigation, reducing the sentence moved for to 7 1/2 years' imprisonment on each count concurrently.


At the commencement of the hearing, Advocate Jones informed the Court that he had been placed into a position of professional difficulty. He had been in receipt of unequivocal instructions from the Defendant, but this was no longer the case, and the Defendant would therefore be representing himself, which the Defendant confirmed to the Court. There was no application for an adjournment. However, Advocate Jones stayed on for the hearing to assist the Court and, with the leave of the Court and at the request of the Defendant, made a number of more technical submissions on the Defendant's behalf for consideration by the Court.


The Defendant started by challenging many of the facts put forward by the prosecution in its Summary of Facts (which we note had been in his possession and that of Advocate Jones from at least March 2021), much of which he said constituted suspicion and supposition, which were not sustainable unless tested at a Newton hearing. He would only accept a penalty on the basis that he had misunderstood the Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999 (“the 1999 Law”) which he had interpreted as meaning that if the sum of cash received by him on each occasion was less than €15,000 there was no need to worry and that he had taken photo ID from...

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    ...Fish & Hinds [2016] JRC 181A. AG v Gomes and others [2007] JRC 129. Bhojwani v AG [2011] JCA 034. Hagin v AG [2020] JCA 247. AG v. Pearce [2021] JRC 203. AG v. Fish and Hinds [2016] JRC 181A. AG v. Arthur [2020] JCA 016. Camacho v AG [2007] JLR 462. D. J. Hopwood Esq., Crown Advocate. Advoc......

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