Following a trial that spanned four months, starting on 28th February 2022 and concluding with verdicts on 24th June 2022, Rupert Hallowes‘ client was unanimously acquitted of conspiracy to export nearly half a tonne of Class A drugs to Australia. The trial took place at Kingston Crown Court.
The eight defendants faced charges arising from a complex and evidentially substantial prosecution by the NCA after 448 kg of MDMA was found concealed and welded into the arm of a Doosan excavator which had been shipped by the Defendant’s company to Brisbane in early 2020. The Defendant was said to be the ‘legitimate front’ for this exportation, as well as two other very similar international movements of heavy machinery containing drugs (admitted as bad character evidence). The Crown’s case relied to a large extent on Encrochat communications between many of the conspirators in which it was clear that Rupert’s client had been instructed to play a part in a rigged auction once the excavator arrived in Australia. It was conceded at trial on behalf of Rupert’s client that, following his arrest, he had lied repeatedly in his interviews under caution.
However, following a lengthy and careful cross-examination of one of Rupert’s client’s co-defendants, whose case ran contrary to his case, the jury was persuaded that Rupert’s client had effectively been duped and was unaware that the exportation was for the purpose of exporting Class A drugs. Rupert’s client did not give evidence at trial.
Rupert’s client was one of only two to be acquitted by the jury. The remaining six defendants fall to be sentenced at a later date.