HMA V John Farrell 2018

Mr Farrell was admonished after pleading guilty to being connected in the supply of class B drugs, namely cocaine. The appellant was admonished as a result of his good behaviour but was subject to a confiscation order. He was charged along with his father in this offence but the fiscals accepted his dad’s not guilty plea when Farrell pled guilty. He has now failed in appeal against a sheriff’s decision to make a confiscation order of more than £270,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The sheriff imposed this after finding that he had led a “criminal lifestyle” which benefited him financially, and this was upheld by the appeal court. The defence failed to show that there would be a “serious risk of injustice”, therefore the sheriff decided that the recoverable amount was £277,382.14. However the appellant argued that there was a serious risk of injustice and argued against the order.

The appellant argued that it was the father that was the source of the property and that he was poorly, suffering from dementia. QC Mr Scott argued that there should be no order made or it should be reduced to £35,575 – a figure identified by the appellant’s forensic accountant, if the Sheriff was not minded to quash it. The Respondent however stated that there was nothing at all special about his case and it should be upheld.

The appeal sheriffs ultimately decided however that he preferred the arguments of the respondent and stated that “We cannot see any factor which might have justified a finding of a risk of serious injustice.” He goes on to state that he found the appellants account ‘utterly unconvincing’.