Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Curtis Warren---Rough Justice or Just Desserts?


It was 3 years ago this week that the Jersey Royal Court found “Drug Baron” Curtis Warren and his accomplices guilty of attempting to import drugs into the Island. The trial had taken two years to get to court because of the legal arguments that preceded it. Therefore for the benefit of readers it might be helpful to go back to the beginning of the saga which began in the summer of 2007.

Whatever Curtis Warren’s business dealings were, he was successful, so much so that he appeared on the 1997 Sunday Times Rich List. Although he was described as a property developer it is apparent that he had outside interests and drug trafficking was one of them. However he was not successful at evading the law authorities because by the early summer of 2007 Warren was coming to the end of a prison sentence he was serving in Holland for a drug plot which had been lengthened following a conviction for killing a fellow prisoner during a fight.

However within 5 weeks of being released from prison he was arrested by the Jersey police and accused of being the ringleader of a six-man gang who were trying to import 180kg of cannabis into the island from Holland via boat from France.

He had denied leading a £1 million plot, but in October 2009 after a two week trial a jury found him and his team guilty of conspiracy to import a controlled drug.

One of the key elements which led to the conviction was the claim that the Jersey Police for surveillance purposes, “bugged” a vehicle being used by Warren’s team. It is claimed that the officers’ action were not only unauthorised but they knew it to be. I am pretty sure that the officer’s will have their version of events so no blame should be apportioned at this stage. However it is very apparent that had the vehicle not been “bugged” it is unlikely that it would have been located and the team arrested.

One can understand the officer’s dileama do they “ break the law” to gather information to assist in arresting a team of criminals in the process of committing a serious crime or do they allow the team to get away? No doubt we all have a view but what is pertinent is that arresting someone is only one part of the legal process. There are other bodies with responsibility for determing whether those arrested should be charged and then referred to the court and tried.

It should be noted that Jersey’s own version of a prosecution service gave approval for the matter to be referred to court. (Jersey does not have independent prosecution service) What is pertinent is that body must have been aware of the Police officer’s actions so why was the matter allowed to go to trial?

The Judge also had the opportunity of kicking the case into touch but did not do so and as mentioned above after a two week trial the Jury returned a guilty verdict. Warren and his team received sentences of varying lengths but soon lodged an appeal which took a further 15 months before being heard.

Warren had built his case at London's Supreme Court around the fact that Jersey Police gathered their evidence against him illegally, which meant he could have been released thanks to their errors. However the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the application. In their unanimous judgement the court, led by Lord Dyson, called Jersey Police's actions a "sustained and deliberate act of law breaking".

They said: "The Board stresses its condemnation of the police misconduct in this case. It was a sustained and deliberate act of law breaking."

They added: "The outcome of this appeal should not be seen to condone or overlook such behaviour. It should not be taken by Jersey police as any kind of signal that they can repeat this kind of conduct with impunity".

Such comments seem hypercritical in the extreme because they could have found in favour of Warren who was understandably aggrieved because he felt he was on the receiving end of rough justice. Warren who is not known as “Teflon” for nothing soon set about further appeals.

What is also of interest is that following the 2009 trial the then acting Police Chief, David Warcup was reported to have said "We hope that the conviction of the men sends out a clear message to others that we will continue to tackle those responsible for the importation of drugs into the island.”

Given Mr Warcup (mis) handling of his former boss’s suspension (Graham Power) it is not surprising that he would make such comments because he is very familiar with unauthorised activity.

Following the Judges’ comments the matter was refferred to the Hampshire Police who are apparently investigating the actions taken by the Jersey Police Officers involved with the process leading to Warren’s arrest. The officer responsible for managing the operation was Chief Inspector David Minty.

No doubt Curtis Warren will be hoping that he will have more success when his appeal goes before a higher authority who might not be minded to ignore “a sustained and deliberate act of law breaking."

It is also evident that the Hants Police report will soon be published and given the court’s comments it is apparent that some one will be found wanting and I would put good money that it wont be anyone responsible for the process that followed Warren’s arrest.

Last week it was announced that Chief Inspector Minty was suspended from duty, not apparently for his handling of the Warren case, but for failing a lawful order to attend a meeting being called by the new Police Chief.

In 2008 during the first States debate on Graham Power’s suspension I said the matter had a nasty smell about it. At the time I was not aware of the shenanigans behind Graham Power’s suspension, nor am I conversant with Mr Minty’s suspension but when I think about it I do not smell roses.

I have a feeling that we shall be hearing a lot more about Mr Warren and Mr Minty, so watch this space.

8 comments:

  1. The UK needs to wash our hands of this seedy disgusting corrupt filthy lying island

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  2. Strong words, but the grass is not that green in the UK, but at least the UK is not afraid to have Committee of Inquiries. It will be interesting to see what Hants Police have to say but given that it is the role of the Jersey Law Officers to advise the Police and to authorise any bugging and similar activity it would be interesting to know precisely what the Police were told they could or could not do. There seems to have been a lot of attention given to what the Police did but almost no interest in the role of the Law Officers in these events.

    Will anyone be enquiring in that direction?

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  3. Morning Bob,
    Very interesting post to read, but I am sure, you above anyone else, knows exactly how corrupt certain areas of the Police & States are.
    They wonder why we have no trust in them!!!! It is a very sad state of affairs, and it has to stop Bob.
    Hope you are well.

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    1. Yes, it is a sad reflection of life the world over and Jersey is not excluded.

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  4. Bob.

    The Supreme Court said.

    "They said: "The Board stresses its condemnation of the police misconduct in this case. It was a sustained and deliberate act of law breaking."

    They added: "The outcome of this appeal should not be seen to condone or overlook such behaviour. It should not be taken by Jersey police as any kind of signal that they can repeat this kind of conduct with impunity". (end)

    I'm sure I remember David Minty saying in the State Media that he would do the same again if needs be?

    That said, as you have alluded to; is Minty really to blame here or is he being made the scape-goat for the real culprit(s) in the (untouchable) Law Offices?

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    1. Yes, I checked and there is a record of him making that statement and I can understand why he said it. Some one said "give me the tools and I will do the job." Law makers must be careful not to give tools to people to stop the police doing their job.

      There will always be occasions when officers have to make difficult decisions to effect an arrest and the Warren case was one of them, that is why checks and balances are in place to deal with such occasions. It will be interesting to know how and why the decision was taken to prosecute.

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  5. Matthew Jowitt was involved in the case against Curtis Warren, did you know Jowitt's father is a high court judge? no, well he is...... so he is protected. Minty has been known to go into court and sit smiling in a seat at people who are going to be prosecuted, who is protecting him? Look closer and you will see the corruption, so Curtis Warren was to be another one to be dealt with in the good old way Jersey knows best! I do not like people like Curtis Warren, like many people in the Island, he was never going to get a fair trial! this I have a problem with. Jowitt is still doing the same thing he is always doing, and life in Jersey is still the same..... I just hope the good people, those with integrity can see it and in time, change the way the Island runs it's corrupt legal system.....

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  6. No I do not know Matthew Jowitt or who his father is. What I do know is that there is a lot more behind the case but is yet to be revealed.

    There will always be occasions when the Police have to take drastic steps to effect an arrest and provided they are upfront when reporting their actions afterwards, their actions may be condoned.

    There is a great deal that the public are not aware of, but like so many events, the truth does eventually trickle out.

    In this particular case there is a great deal that the public are not aware of, but like so many other events, the truth does eventually trickle out.

    Unfortunately the public is not always party to the truth at the outset not because it is not known but is covered up. However there are now ways via the Blogs for an example where the public can seek the truth for the greater good.

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