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Admissibility of Evidence Appeal Rejected

HMA v MR SADIQ AND MR SADIQ 2017

Mr Alam Sadiq and Mr Omar Sadiq who challenged the admissibility of evidence of a car key obtained from a police search of their hotel room have had their appeal rejected. They were, as a result of this search, charged with drug trafficking of Class A drugs. They argued that the Judge had erred in allowing this evidence to be admitted; but the appeal court held that the police had entered the hotel room lawfully and in fact the key was not actually recovered during such search.

The manager of the of a busy Glasgow hotel was watching the CCTV on shift in 2015 when he saw suspicious men. He phoned the police on the men as he believed a drug deal was going on after watching the men deal with white powder. The police then went to the suspected men’s room to speak to the other men still present there but they did not seek a warrant. The police struggled with the men to gain entry and upon arrival saw drug paraphernalia on a table in the room.

They began to search but PC Corkindale who took charge of the scene instructed the search to be stopped in order to seek a warrant. However, upon phoning the PF he was told that the hotel staff could provide consent and a warrant was not necessary, this was quickly obtained. An Audi car key was found in plain view on the table. The first instance Judge excluded the evidence of the search but permitted evidence to be admitted of the recovery of the Audi car key.

He stated the room search was unlawful as there was no urgency and therefore they required a warrant and the advice of the PF was wrong. However, the judge also found that there was an urgency in finding and securing the car as they had not got control of this crime scene yet, therefore the recovery of the key was admissible in evidence. However, the appellants were not satisfied and appealed this also.

Refusing the appeal, the appeal judges agreed with the approach taken by the first instance judge. Lord Turnbull said: “It was agreed by joint minute that the car key was on a table in plain view when the officers entered the bedroom. It was not recovered in the context of the limited search which took place before permission was sought from Mr Rankin or during the search which took place thereafter.

We cannot accept the submission advanced that the unlawful search encompassed everything which was seen by the police officers. The car key was simply observed by the police officers who gained lawful entry to the room in the circumstances described.”

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