Wright, R v, Court of Appeal - Criminal Division, March 07, 2017, [2017] EWCA Crim 126

Issuing Organization:Criminal Division
Actores:Wright, R v
Resolution Date:March 07, 2017
 
FREE EXCERPT

Neutral Citation Number: [2017] EWCA Crim 126

Case No: 2016/1251/A4

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CRIMINAL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM THE CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT

HHJ COOKE

T20157249

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 07/03/2017

Before :

LORD JUSTICE TREACY

MR JUSTICE HOLGATE

and

HIS HONOUR JUDGE GRIFFITHS-JONES

(SITTING AS A JUDGE OF THE CACD)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Between :

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Mr D Robinson (instructed by Crown Prosecution Service) for the Respondent

Mr P Lownds (instructed by Hughmans) for the Appellant

Hearing date: 28 February 2017

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

LORD JUSTICE TREACY:

  1. This is an application for leave to appeal against sentence. On 18 December 2014, at Leeds Crown Court, Andrew Wright pleaded guilty to an offence of conspiracy to contravene s.170(2)(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. The conspiracy involved the importation of a very large quantity of cocaine over a period of about 3 months starting in September 2014.

  2. In due course the case was transferred to the Central Criminal Court to be linked with the cases against Mark Vango, (also known as Dowling) Jamie Williams and others. On 9 February 2016, Wright was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment. Vango was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment for the same conspiracy, with concurrent sentences being imposed for a number of other offences. Williams was sentenced to 23 years imprisonment, comprising 18 years for the conspiracy and other offences and 5 years consecutive on a Firearms Act charge. All those offenders had tendered guilty pleas to the charges against them.

  3. Wright submitted a basis of plea, in which inter alia he had claimed not to know about the scale and nature of the operation, and that his role was limited to flying containers from Germany to the UK. He claimed he had been paid expenses, rather than significant amounts of money, and that he had become involved in circumstances where he was under threat, falling short of duress. The Crown did not accept those contentions and the matter had been listed for Newton hearing. On the day of that hearing when it became clear that Wright would have to give evidence in support of his contentions, he decided not to maintain his assertions. Accordingly, he was sentenced on a full facts basis.

  4. On 2 November 2015, Mark Vango pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy to import cocaine, having previously pleaded not guilty. He had about 1 month before pleaded guilty to counts 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9 on the indictment, representing later offending. Vango advanced a basis of plea, which sought to put himself in a significant, rather than a leading role in the conspiracy. The Crown did not accept that, and a Newton hearing was arranged. Some weeks prior to that hearing Vango withdrew his basis of plea, so that he was sentenced on a full facts basis. The term of 24 years on the conspiracy was accompanied by concurrent sentences on counts 2 to 9, including a 10 year sentence for possession of a significant quantity of cocaine with intend to supply.

  5. The facts show that Wright had a background in aviation and was a qualified pilot. He and his wife set up a company which was used as cover for the drug importations. Wright was arrested on 17 November 2014 after flying from Germany in a single engined Cessna to an airfield near Selby in Yorkshire. Border Force officers went to the aircraft hangar. Wright claimed to have been to Germany to see his sales team in his aerial photography business. Whilst officers searched the aircraft and his Porsche Cayenne 4 x 4 vehicle. Wright was using his mobile to warn others of...

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR FREE TRIAL