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PIN secrets land three in jail

PIN secrets land three in jail

Friday 14 February 2020

PIN secrets land three in jail


Guernsey's courts are cracking down on criminals who don't give law enforcement officers access to their phones and other devices, with three men jailed in separate cases in one morning after all refusing to provide their PIN codes.

Each of the three men were initially arrested on suspicion of possession of illegal substances, before also falling foul of Guernsey's law covering 'failure to disclose' information relevant to a criminal investigation.

Court

Pictured: The three men appeared before Guernsey's courts in individual cases yesterday. 

41-year-old Steven Setters was sentenced to eight weeks behind bars at Les Nicolle after he appeared before the Magistrate's Court.

He had initially been arrested after a search of his home address last August led police to find MDMA and cannabis. Both those substances have since been linked to another man who also lived at the same address, and who is going through the courts on separate charges of possession and intent to supply.

Setters was arrested on suspicion of involvement but he wasn’t even interviewed. His phone was seized however, and Guernsey Police gave him a week to provide his PIN code, but he said he was unhappy with how he was treated by police so refused.

Defence Advocate Paul Lockwood said: “My client is here today because he happened to live at the same place. It’s a clear cut case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“All the offences they [officers] were there to investigate have resulted in charges. There’s no unanswered questions. Is it then safe and proper for you [Judge McKerrell] to speculate regarding what was on his phone?

“He was perturbed that police might go on a frolic on his phone, looking for anything and everything, completely unrelated to the pursuit for which is was seized.”

In sentencing, Magistrate Graeme McKerrell said: “However you may feel about the way the police behaved, there is no justification to you not complying with a lawful request.

“Failure to disclose offences are most assuredly increasing. It Is easy to come along and say there was nothing to hide, I was merely disgruntled.” 

Guernsey Police Station

Pictured: Each of the three men refused to give police officers access to their mobile phones. 

Also appearing before Magistrate McKerrell yesterday was 21-year-old Samuel Morley, who was arrested after police officers searched his home and found 4.15g of cannabis.

His mobile phone was seized but he refused to give code saying: “I couldn’t tell you even if I wanted to, I’ve forgotten it.”

His defence lawyer, Advocate Sam Steel told the court: “He didn’t want a code that was easy to guess like his birthday.

“Mr Morley understands how seriously this court treats these offences.”

Advocate Steel also said: “He’s worried about the availability of certain substances in the prison," as he is currently recovering from an opioids addiction.

However, Magistrate McKerrell said he didn't believe Morley's story.

“It’s easy for a defendant to say he or she has forgotten the password for their phone. I don’t believe that you did not know the passcode.

“I’m entitled to assume other criminality.”

Morley was sentenced to three months in prison for failing to disclose his PIN code and two weeks for the cannabis charge, to be served concurrently, giving a total sentence of three months in prison.

les Nicolles prison

Pictured: The three men have all been jailed for failure to disclose their mobile phone PIN numbers. 

31-year-old Thomas Walsh appeared before the Royal Court yesterday, where he faced Judge Russell Finch and the Jurats on two charges.

His first count related to the unlawful possession of 62.97grams of cannabis resin, with a minimum street value of at least £1259.40.

His second charge related to the failure to disclose his PIN code to police officers.

Judge Finch made it clear to the court that the Magistrates Court had refused jurisdiction on this case because the failure to disclose charge meant Walsh was facing a longer prison sentence than if he had co-operated fully with police.

The court had heard that Walsh was nervous about what officers might find on his mobile, and that he didn't want to get his supplier in trouble.

Judge Finch said: "There may have been other information to help law enforcement officers, to help them deal with the scourge of drugs on this island."

Although there was a considerable amount of cannabis involved, the court accepted it was for personal use, but Judge Finch said it was the refusal to disclose his PIN number in this case which could not be seen as a way out.

Judge Finch said a community service order or a non-custodial sentence, which might have been considered otherwise, was simply not viable. 

He sentenced Walsh to eight months in prison for the possession of the cannabis resin and 12 months in prison for failing to disclose evidence. The two sentences are to run consecutively meaning Walsh was given a total sentence of 20 months from yesterday, having been on bail while waiting for his case to come to court.

Judge Finch said the sentence was warranted as a "higher deterrent was needed" to prevent other people also failing to disclose evidence in future cases.

Pictured: Les Nicolles Prison. 

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