Simon Gurney secures half time acquittal in shotgun shooting conspiracy

On 1st April 2019 at Preston Crown Court, Simon Gurney secured the acquittal of a young man from Preston, AH, accused of participating in a conspiracy to possess a sawn-off shot gun, which was discharged into a house in Accrington, East Lancashire in June 2017.

The Prosecution alleged that AH, along with 6 others, was involved in the conspiracy which allegedly arose from a background involving drug supply by an organised crime group.

Unusually, AH was alleged to have conspired with his co-defendants from his prison cell at HMP Forest Bank. It was alleged that he had used an illicit mobile phone to make threats around the time of the shooting.

The Prosecution case depended on analysis of the telephony evidence, through which it sought to show that AH was the user of the illicit mobile phone, the use of which was connected to the conspiracy.

Simon effectively challenged the telephony evidence in cross-examination but also pursued a vigorous disclosure strategy, seeking disclosure of third-party material from the security department at HMP Forest Bank in an effort to undermine the Prosecution’s allegation that the phone was being used by AH.

As a result of that strategy and the disclosure of undermining material, the Prosecution was forced to call the Security Manager of HMP Forest Bank who gave evidence about the transfer of mobile phones around the prison after ‘night lockdown’, which he agreed could happen through broken windows, under cell doors and even with the assistance of corrupt prison officers.

At the close of the Prosecution case, after four weeks at trial, Simon made a successful submission that there was insufficient evidence for the jury properly to convict AH. The Judge acceded to the submission and directed the jury to acquit AH, because the Prosecution could not prove he was the user of the illicit prison phone at the relevant times.

Simon Gurney is recognised in the legal directories as a leading junior in crime and regulatory law. He has substantial experience in successfully defending those accused of involvement in organised crime.

Click here to view Simon’s profile or to instruct Simon, please contact Head of Clerking David Wright on 0161 832 5701.