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R v JF Alford Transport 1997

R v JF Alford Transport [1997] 2 Cr APP R 326 addressed the principle that an omission could constitute aiding and abetting if the defendant had control over the principal and knowledge of the offence. Additionally, the court clarified that deliberately turning a blind eye, especially when possessing knowledge of the offence, does not serve as a defence.


The factual context involved truck drivers making false entries on a tachograph record. The company's managing director and transport manager were charged with aiding and abetting the drivers' offence.


In delivering the judgment, Kennedy LJ emphasised that when a defendant possesses knowledge of the principal offence, has the ability to control the actions of the offender, and deliberately refrains from intervening, they can be deemed guilty of aiding and abetting. Citing the precedent set in National Coal Board v Gamble [1959], Kennedy LJ underscored that an accessory must have intended to perform acts known to assist or encourage the commission of the crime, though not necessarily intending the commission of the crime itself.


Kennedy LJ further clarified that if the management's decision to turn a blind eye was motivated by factors such as keeping the drivers happy rather than intentionally promoting the production of false tachograph records, it would not constitute a valid defence.


The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, quashing the convictions. The court reasoned that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the defendants had knowledge of the drivers' actions, thereby leading to the overturning of the convictions.


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