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Conspiracy

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Conspiracy

  1. 1. Conspiracy
  2. 2. Overview We have seen how groups can be prosecuted under joint enterprise and aiding & abetting laws. What about when a group forms a plan to commit a crime? Conspiracy is an agreement between at least two people to commit crime. But no crime needs to take place. It's an inchoate offence
  3. 3. Overview Tom, Liam, and Dave are all members of a gang called the Criminal Justice Crew. They hold a conference call over Skype to discuss a burglary and all agree to burgle NatWest Bank the following Friday. The police had bugged the call and arrested them all before the burglary could take place.
  4. 4. Aiding & abetting Overview Joint enterprise Help, encouragement Several Help, encouragement Several etc. participants. etc. participants. Conspiracy Joint agreement Joint agreement to commit crime. to commit crime.
  5. 5. Objectives By the end of the session, all learners will: 1) Be able to apply the principles of conspiracy to case-studies. 2) Be able to distinguish between conspiracy, aidong & abetting, and joint enterprise.
  6. 6. The Basics Criminal Law Act 1977, section 1(1): Subject to the following provisions of this Part of this Act, if a person agrees with any other person or persons that a course of conduct shall be pursued which, if the agreement is carried out in accordance with their intentions, either— (a)will necessarily amount to or involve the commission of any offence or offences by one or more of the parties to the agreement, or (b)would do so but for the existence of facts which render the commission of the offence or any of the offences impossible,he is guilty of conspiracy to commit the offence or offences in question.
  7. 7. The Basics Section 1(2): Conspiracy requires knowledge or intention, even if the substantive crime only requires recklessness or strict liability. R v Saik (2006) D owned a bureau de change and converted loads of stolen cash into foreign currency. House of Lords quashed his conspiracy conviction because he only suspected it was stolen and he had to know.
  8. 8. The Basics Section 2(2): You cannot be guilty of conspiracy if you are: a) Husband and wife b) Under the age of criminal responsibility c) An intended victim of the offence
  9. 9. The Basics Common law conspiracy is preserved by the Act: Conspiracy to defraud. Conspiracy to corrupt public morals.
  10. 10. An Agreement The courts have failed to define this. Can consist of written agreements, words, or other actions indicating agreement. R v Walker (1962): D discussed the idea of stealing a payroll with two others. They did not get beyond the stage of negotiation, so Court of Appeal quashed their convictions for conspiracy: The parties must have reached a solid decision
  11. 11. An Agreement The agreement must be quite specific: R v Taylor (2002) D agreed to import Class B drugs into the UK. Class A drugs were actually imported. Court stated that D had not "agreed" to this crime.
  12. 12. An Agreement But the courts are prepared to overlook minor details: R v Broad (1997) D and E formed an agreement to import a Class A drug. D thought they'd agreed to import heroin; E thought they'd agreed to import cocaine. The court said this was irrelevant. They both agreed to import a Class A drug.
  13. 13. An Agreement There is no need to prove that all members of the conspiracy were in contact with each other: Wheel conspiracy: X may be in contact with D1, D2, and D3 separately. They never meet. Chain conspiracy: D1 talks to D2, D2 talks to D3. D1 and D3 never meet. R v Meyrick (1929): "What has to be ascertained is always the same matter: is it true to say...that the acts of the accused were done in persuance of a criminal purpose held in common between them?"
  14. 14. Wheel Conspiracy D2 D1 X D6 D5 D3 D4
  15. 15. Chain Conspiracy D1 D2 D3 D4
  16. 16. With Any Other Person(s) It takes at least two people to form a conspiracy. R v Lovick (1993): Mrs Lovick's conviction was quashed because only she and her husband were involved in the agreement. R v Chrastny (1992): Mrs Chrastny was guilty because she conspired with her husband knowing that he had conspired with others.
  17. 17. With Any Other Person(s) Does not include the proposed victim of the crime: If John (aged 30) and Laura (aged 13) agree to have underage sex, there is no conspiracy.
  18. 18. To Pursue a "Course of Conduct" Must agree on that specific course of conduct: R v Siracusa (1989) D conspired to import drugs. The mens rea of the substantive offence is an intention to import any drug. But the mens rea for conspiracy is different. O'Connor LJ: "The essence of the crime of conspiracy is the agreement and, in simple terms, you do not have an agreement to import heroin by proving an agreement to import cannabis."
  19. 19. In Accordance With Their Intentions Intention to agree is not the same thing as an intention, or desire, that the crime be committed: R v Anderson (1986): D agreed with E and F to supply diamond wire for a prison break, along with ladders, rope and a safehouse. He argued that he did not believe it would ever be successful and he intended to take his payment and run off to Spain. Court upheld his conviction. He intended to agree and didn't need to intend or desire the prison break to be effective.
  20. 20. In Accordance With Their Intentions Consider the following scenario and apply the R v Anderson principle: D is an undercover police officer who has infiltrated the St Helens Mafia. One evening, during a meeting at the local pool hall, he agrees with three other people that a bank robbery should take place the following day. D had to agree otherwise he risked blowing his cover and ruining the police investigation.
  21. 21. In Accordance With Their Intentions Court of Appeal has ignored R v Anderson on several occasions: Edwards (1991), Ashton (1992), Harvey (1999). R v Edwards (1991) D agreed to supply amphetamine but there was a possibility he intended to supply ephedrine instead. Judge said D could only be convicted of conspiracy to supply amphetamine if he intended to supply amphetamine.
  22. 22. Intention to Take Part? R v Anderson (1986) per Lord Bridge: "Beyond the mere fact of agreement, the necessary mens rea of the crime is, in my opinion, established if, and only if, it is shown that the accused, when he entered into the agreement, intended to play some part in the agreed course of conduct in furtherance of the criminal purpose which the agreed course of conduct was intended to achieve."
  23. 23. Intention to Take Part? R v Siracusa (1989) Court of Appeal "clarified" what Lord Bridge meant to say in Anderson (they actually overruled him): O'Connor LJ: D's "intention to participate was established by his failure to stop the unlawful activity. Lord Bridge's dictum does not require anything more." D had been involved in a conspiracy to import drugs but was not going to physically do anything.
  24. 24. Conditional Intent R v Reed (1982) D and E agreed that E would visit people contemplating suicide. He would assess the situation and provide faith "healing" or help them to commit suicide. Court said this was a conspiracy to aid & abet suicide.
  25. 25. Summary Conspiracy is an inchoate offence - no physical crime needs to take place. It involves an agreement between at least two people. It is uncertain whether or not an intention that the crime be committed is required. D does not have to intend to take part in the crime. Conspirators do not have to meet or talk to each other - wheel and chain conspiracies. Even if the crime is impossible, there can still be a conspiracy.

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