We represented a vulnerable client charged with offences of possession with intent to supply class A drugs and possession of criminal property. At the time of the alleged offences, our client was only 18 years old.

Our client’s instructions gave rise to serious concerns that he had been a victim of modern day slavery. Despite the fact that the very circumstances of the alleged offences themselves were typical of such a scenario, our client had not been referred to the National Referral Mechanism by the police following his arrest. We advised our client to plead not guilty to all matters and we insisted that our client was referred to the National Referral Mechanism by the officer in charge of the case.

The Competent Authority subsequently provided a negative reasonable grounds decision; they had determined that there were not reasonable grounds to believe that our client had been a victim of modern day slavery. Following a subject access request, it became apparent that this decision had been made on the basis of factors that were entirely consistent with exploitation for example, the fact that our client had been found far away from home in a cuckooed address with drugs and cash in his possession. We challenged the negative reasonable grounds decision on this basis and the Competent Authority agreed to reconsider their decision. A positive reasonable grounds decision was later received.

We subsequently worked with our client to provide further information and evidence which supported his account and instructed a number of experts in his case. After considering our client’s case and the information that we provided, the Competent Authority provided a positive conclusive grounds decision. In light of this, the Crown Prosecution Service reviewed the case against our client and determined that it was not in the public interest to prosecute our client for these offences. The Crown Prosecution Service subsequently offered no evidence against our client and formal not guilty verdicts were recorded.

Our client was represented by Sabrina Neves, a solicitor in our Croydon Team, and in Court, by Ioana Nedelcu of Farringdon Chambers