R v Valentine* (Scott Baker L.J., Holland and Loraine-Smith J.J.;  EWCA Crim 2717; 10.11.06)
In October 2004, Mr Valentine (the Appellant) pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to supply counterfeit Diazepam, and two conspiracies to contravene Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994 and Section 8 Medicines Act 1968 in relation to counterfeit Viagra and steroids. Industrial tablet presses, labels, packaging machines and boxes of counterfeit pills bearing the mark VIAGRA had previously been found by police during raids at premises in Wembley and Watford.
On the basis of documentation found during the raids, it was calculated that the Appellant and his co-accused could produce 500,000 fake tablets per day. In addition to a five and a half year prison sentence, Mr Valentine was ordered in confiscation proceedings to pay £1,216,940.63 (with 7 years imprisonment in default of payment). The prosecution had made assumptions under Section 72AA Criminal Justice Act 1988 and Section 4(1) Drug Trafficking Act 1994 that the Appellant had concealed assets of £1,225,000. The assumptions were based on the scale of the production of the drugs and his offer to pay £1,225,000 in cash for a house the day before his arrest. The judge rejected the Appellant’s contention that he was in fact intending to buy the house to sell on immediately. However, being sceptical about the Crown’s own figures, the judge found that Mr Valentine had hidden assets of £800,000 (reducing the £1.25m by a third).
Mr Valentine appealed on the basis that there was substantial injustice in the judge’s finding. The main issue on appeal was whether the Appellant’s £1.25m cash offer for the house was sufficient evidence that he had such a sum at the time. The CoA dismissed the appeal, holding that the judge’s reasoning was sound. The reduction by a third had been sufficiently generous, especially as the Appellant had not produced any credible alternative estimate of his assets. Mr Valentine also appealed the length of the prison sentence in default of payment, arguing that 7 years was excessive. He lost on this ground as well, since this figure had already been reduced by the judge from a possible 10 years.