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Jeweller loses bid for bail before money laundering sentencing

Jeweller loses bid for bail before money laundering sentencing

Saturday 30 January 2021

Jeweller loses bid for bail before money laundering sentencing

Saturday 30 January 2021

A town jeweller found guilty of money laundering offences has lost his third bid to be freed on bail before he is sentenced in March.

Darius James Pearce (48) appeared in the Royal Court on Friday to argue that he needed to be freed from custody in order to prepare for his sentencing.

In December, Pearce was found guilty of money laundering at the end of a week-long trial. Pearce accepted cash, which he knew was linked to criminal activity, at his Central Market shop before using the money to buy gold in London, which was then converted back to cash.

The money was then used to fund an audacious drug smuggling attempt that was foiled last July when Customs and Police officers swooped on a criminal gang that was trying to land almost a million pounds of cocaine, MDMA and cannabis into Jersey using a chartered yacht.

The investigation - dubbed Operation Lion - was described as one of the most complex ever undertaken by authorities in Jersey.

Six men and one woman were jailed for a total of close to 74 years by the Royal Court in September. Pearce denied any involvement.

In court on Friday, Pearce said that he needed bail because there were other legal proceedings that he needed to work on.

As well as sentencing, these included contesting the freezing of his assets, a Petty Debts claim that he needed to pay GST on some collectible stamps, instructing an English QC to review if there were grounds to appeal his conviction, and working on his business arrangements, which he said were held in a family trust out of his control.

“I am trying my best to prep myself from my prison cell but I have no access to research,” he said. “I am allowed to post one letter a week but that can only be to one person, who I have to rely on to pass it on. 

“I have also made a request for legal aid but that was turned down because the legal aid officer said it was an information gathering exercise. 

“I am now having to represent myself at my sentencing because my money has run out, so my lawyer has said he can now only give an opinion.” 

Pearce added that it was possible that he may only have one day to prepare his mitigation before sentencing on 10 March because of the time it would take for the prosecution's arguments to be posted to him.

For the Crown, Advocate Matthew Maletriot opposed the bail application. He said that Pearce would be able to see the Crown’s draft conclusions and the legal authorities it was using at least two weeks before the hearing. 

He added that the Crown would be proposing at least a five-year custodial sentence so the Court could only grant bail in exceptional circumstances, of which there were none.

Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae, who was sitting with Jurats Thomas and Averty, agreed, telling Pearce: “We accept that you are unrepresented and that you will have difficulties, but the Crown have said that they will be flexible with timelines.

“Also, we don’t consider that your outstanding matter with GST or the fact you’ve instructed a QC are exceptional.

“We do, however, recognise that it would be undesirable for you to receive the Crown’s conclusions just before you are sentenced, but Advocate Maletriot has undertaken to make sure that you receive his draft conclusions at least two weeks before.

“Accordingly, the application is refused and you will be remanded in custody until sentencing.”

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