R v Valderamma-Vega
Court of Appeal
Citations:  Crim LR 220.
The defendant was a retired police officer who was caught smuggling drugs into the country at Gatwick airport. He claimed that he did so because drug importers had threatened to reveal his sexuality to his wife and inflict violence on him and his family if he did not. He was also motivated by serious financial difficulties.
At trial, he tried to rely on the defence of duress. The trial judge directed the jury that duress could only be relied on where the ‘sole’ motivator of the crime was the threat of serious injury or death. The defendant appealed his conviction.
- Could the defendant rely on the defence of duress?
The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. The judge’s use of the word ‘sole’ was misleading, but the direction was not so incorrect that it led to the conviction being unsafe.
This Case is Authority For…
To rely on the defence of duress, the defendant must be able to show that he would not have offended but for the presence of threats of serious physical violence or violence.
However, the threat of physical violence does not need to be the only threat the defendant is under. The jury may consider the cumulative effect of other kinds of threats provided there is also the threat of serious violence or death.