Jury Direction in Criminal Cases and “Brown Directions”

judge desk with a gavel

The appellants, Solanki and Patel, were convicted of a money laundering offence under s328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act following a sophisticated, multimillion-pound, cross-border money laundering operation. Solanki was sentenced to eight years in prison and disqualified from acting as a director for ten years and Patel was sentenced to six years in prison.

Both appealed to the Court of Appeal against conviction and sentence, arguing that the jury was wrongly directed in response to a tax question, and that the judge failed to give a direction in accordance with R v Brown (1984) where the prosecution’s case had been put on the basis that the circumstances in which the property was handled were such as to give rise to the irresistible inference that it could only be derived from crime, rather than the property being the proceeds of specifically identified criminal conduct.

The court was satisfied that this was not a case where the jury actually needed to be satisfied that any particular money was criminal property. And as the prosecution submitted, that would have been to drive a coach and horses through the essential nature of the Crown’s case. The court also found that the Recorder’s summing up accorded with good practice and no Brown direction was needed.

As for sentencing, taking into account for example the nature of the fraud and mitigating factors, the sentences imposed were not manifestly excessive. The Recorder’s reasoning could not be faulted and the appeals failed.

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