DPP v Harrington
1990 WJSC-CCA 1622
THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL
FORGERY ACT 1913 S8
FORGERY ACT 1913 S11
FORGERY ACT 1913 S15
Bank notes - Possession - ~Mens rea~ - Proof - Sufficiency - Absence of evidence that accused knew that the notes were counterfeit - Proof of knowledge beyond reasonable doubt required - Conviction quashed - Forgery Act, 1913, s. 8 - (17/89 - Court of Criminal Appeal - 31/7/90)
|The People v. Harrington|
Onus of proof
Discharge - Prosecution - Failure - Forgery - Bank notes - Possession - Essential proof being that accused knew that notes were forged - Proof beyond reasonable doubt - (17/89 - Court of Criminal Appeal - 31/7/90)
|The People v. Harrington|
Noel Harrington was tried by the Special Criminal Court on the 24th of January 1989 with Geoffrey Tong Yow and Gerard Crilly on a charge of possession of forged bank notes namely, 40,000 forged U.S. 50 dollar bills under Section 8 of the Forgery Act 1913. On the 31st of January 1989 he was convicted on this charge and sentenced to four years” penal servitude. An application for leave to appeal was refused and he now appeals to this Court for leave against this conviction on two grounds namely,:
(1) that the Special Criminal Court erred in law in refusing to accede to his application that he had no case to answer at the end of the prosecution case and
(2) that the Special Criminal Court erred in law in finding that he knew that the dollar bank notes the subject of the charge were counterfeit.
The offence under Section 8 of the Forgery Act 1913 is in the following terms:
"Every person shall be guilty of felony and on conviction thereof shall be liable to penal servitude for any term not exceeding 14 years, who, without lawful authority or excuse, the proof whereof shall lie on the accused, purchases or receives from any person, or has in his custody or possession, a forged bank note, knowing the same to be forged."
In the present case Section 8 requires to be read with Section 11 which provides:
"Any person who knowingly and wilfully aids, abets, counsels, causes, procures, or commands the commission of an offence punishable under this Act shall be liable to be dealt with, indicted, tried and punished as a principal offender."
It is an essential element in this offence that the person charged should at the time of his possession of the bank notes have had knowledge that they were forged and it is common case that the onus of proving this knowledge beyond a reasonable doubt lay upon the Prosecution. The evidence for the Prosecution which might be considered to have a bearing on Harrington's knowledge was very limited. It established that on Monday the 15th of August 1989 a meeting took place at the Shelbourne Hotel Dublin between Detective Sergeant Richard Walker of the Serious Crimes Squad, New Scotland Yard, London with Patrick Sullivan, a special agent of the United States Department of the Treasury and Geoffrey Tong Yow, Gerard Crilly and Noel Harrington. Detective Sergeant Walker said that he and Agent Patrick Sullivan came by appointment to the Shelbourne Hotel and after having had him paged met Geoffrey Tong Yow who brought them into the bar and introduced them to Gerard Crilly and Noel Harrington where they sat at a table. There was then conversation between Detective Sergeant Walker and Yow and Crilly in the presence of the others as to whether Detective Sergeant Walker then had the money. He said he had, that it was in the bank and he had certificates for deposit which he could show. He was not going to go wandering around Dublin with £200,000 like loose change. At this point Yow and Crilly left the bar to talk together, leaving Noel Harrington with Detective Sergeant Walker and Agent Patrick Sullivan. Then agent Sullivan said to Harrington "Who stated what the price was to be in this deal?" Harrington nodded and pointed to his left where Yow had been sitting and said "I think it was him". Agent Sullivan replied "o.k. but I want you to know I am not happy with it and the next parcel must be at a better price." Harrington replied "You'll have to sort that out with them. That side of it has nothing to do with me." This was followed by some general conversation and then Yow and Crilly returned and there was further conversation in the presence of Harrington and Crilly between Detective Sergeant Walker, Agent Sullivan and Yow to the effect that the price was too high and next time would have to be better but that there...
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