Regina v Harmes and Another: CACD 9 May 2006

The appellant Harmes ran a public house and was suspected of involvement in the distribution of Class A drugs and money laundering. An undercover police operation was launched and approved which lasted approximately 3 months. One of the undercover police officers offered to supply Harmes with cheap soft drinks and another suggested they could be paid in cocaine. The trial judge concluded that three of the supplies of drugs would not have been made had it not been for the officers’ conduct and stayed those proceedings, but she allowed a count of conspiracy to proceed to conviction. The defendants appealed against convictions for conspiracy to contravene section 170 of the 1979 Act. They alleged entrapment by the officers involved.
Held: The court did not consider that ‘whatever technical failures there might have been in the authorisations’ upon which the officers acted were dispositive of the appeal.
Moses LJ said: ‘We have already concluded that the officers’ conduct was criminal and it was not properly authorised. Nonetheless, we take the view that it should not be regarded as so seriously improper as to require the court to intervene to prevent the prosecution for conspiracy. It was conduct which merely exposed, for the purposes of the undercover operation, the undercover officers’ interest in drugs and eagerness to receive a small quantity. That was, in our judgment, no more than might be expected of any criminal willing to engage in illicit dealing in drugs. Looseley emphasised the importance of the analysis of the behaviour of the undercover officers in comparison with that which might bee expected of those committing criminal offences (see for example paragraph 55 of the speech of Lord Hoffmann in Looseley). Undercover officers, seeking to expose drug dealers, must show enthusiasm and a degree of persistence to provide protection for their undercover activities. As Lord Hoffmann accepts, a good deal of active behaviour may be acceptable . . In our judgment the conduct of the police officers was not exceptional and did not go beyond that which was necessary to show their willingness to deal in drugs. An exchange of a small amount of cocaine triggered the revelation that these defendants were not only happy to import very substantial quantities of cocaine but had the ability to do so. The officers’ activities pale into insignificance in comparison to the offers made by Harmes to import, on their behalf, large amounts of cocaine of a high value.’
Moses LJ, Penry-Davey, Grigson JJ
[2006] EWCA Crim 928
Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 170, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Looseley (orse Loosely); Attorney General’s Reference No 3 of 2000 HL 25-Oct-2001
Police Entrapment is no defence to Criminal Act
The defendant complained of his conviction for supplying controlled drugs, saying that the undercover police officer had requested him to make the supply.
Held: It was an abuse of process for the police to go so far as to incite a crime.
Cited by:
CitedRegina v Moore and Another CACD 13-Feb-2013
The appellants said that they had been entrapped into committing the offences of which they stood convicted. Their applications for stay on the ground of abuse of process had been rejected.
Held: The appeal failed.
Rix Lj said: ‘the . .
CitedM, Regina v CACD 18-Mar-2011
The prosecutor appealed against a ruling that the prosecution was an abuse of process, the defendant having said that the police officer had entrapped him into committing the offence of supplying a Class A drug. A police undercover drugs operation . .
CitedPalmer and Others v Regina CACD 7-Aug-2014
Three defendants appealed against convictions for selling stolen goods, saying that the police had used entrapment. The officers had established a shop at which thieves might expect to sell goods. Each defendant had pleaed guilty after a ruling . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 13 March 2021; Ref: scu.241576