• In the case of R v Pace and Rogers [2014] EWCA Crim 186, [2014] 1 WLR 2867, the appellants’ actual knowledge (and not suspicion) that goods were stolen was required

Facts of the Case

  • Ds (the appellants; a father and a son) ran a long-established scrap metal yard
  • The son was a paid employee tasked to weight, check and accept items at the yard for purchase
  • Two operatives (undercover policemen) took 26 kilograms of new earthing tape and 56 kilograms of power cable to the yard; they were received by the son
  • The people who brought the scrap admitted to the son that they had stolen it from the back of a van
  • D1 (the son) reportedly said he would pretend not to have heard this comment, realising that this could lead to ramifications before law enforcement; nevertheless, he accepted the scrap and the transaction was finalised
  • On a different occasion, the same operatives returned and brought a brass war memorial plaque (described as ‘genuinely stolen’) and 488kgs of lead flashing to the yard; this was said in the presence of the second appellant – the father (D2)
  • A different employee (i.e. not D1, nor D2) completed this transaction and it turned out that the scrap was not stolen – it was police property
  • At the time, the Thames Valley Police were deploying operatives to scrap yards to see whether they were accepting any stolen scrap metal, so the Ds were caught
  • The undercover police officials had made 10 visits to the site, nine times of which they encountered the appellants

Issues in R v Pace and Rogers [2014] EWCA Crim 186, [2014] 1 WLR 2867

  • Ds were separately charged with attempting to conceal, disguise or convert criminal property
  • At the time, the judge ruled out that the mens rea for the substantive and the suspected offences was the same
  • Ds were convicted and appealed against a mistake made by the judge in law
  • Ds were unsatisfied with the trial judge’s rejection of the submission of no case to answer and legal instruction to the jury in the summing-up

Held by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)

  • Appeal allowed – convictions quashed
  • The prosecution ought to have proved, pursuant to s.1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 that the Ds knew that the property they received was stolen, as opposed to merely suspecting this

Lord Justice Davis  

Davis LJ delivered the panel’s judgement, some key picks from his judgement including dealing with the raised money laundering concerns by the Crown:

  • ‘For the purposes of a count of attempted money laundering proof of a mental element of suspicion (only) does not suffice. We therefore think that the Judge erred in his approach in his ruling on the submission of no case to answer; and, in consequence, also erred in the instruction he gave to the jury in his summing-up. In so holding, we intend no disrespect to the Judge, who plainly had sought to consider the matter carefully. But since we are not able to agree with his conclusions the consequence is that we cannot consider these convictions to be safe.’ [paragraph 78]
  • ‘But, as we have sought to say, the policy behind the substantive offences of money laundering cannot be allowed to distort the meaning of s.1 of the 1981 Act relating to attempts.’ [paragraph 79]