Case Study - Anthony Harrison

Anthony Harrison
 

Convicted of: Human Trafficking and False Imprisonment

 

Sentence: 20 years. Year of Conviction: 2011

 

In November 2010 Anthony Harrison, a Nigerian immigrant and long-time resident of the UK was arrested and subsequently convicted on two counts of human trafficking and two counts of false imprisonment on Thursday 7th July 2011.

 

Background

Harrison was introduced to two Nigerian women by his close friend and former housemate, John Glory (whose real name is Charles Pepple). On two separate occasions, John Glory contacted Harrison and asked him to temporarily assist his sister, on the first occasion, and his niece, on the second occasion. Both women stayed with Harrison for a short time. The prosecution’s case was that, during their stay with Harrison, he prostituted, raped and threatened to kill the women, using Juju ‘magic’ to ensure their compliance if they refused his orders. Neither complainant mentioned the use of Juju until the release of a Channel 4 Documentary about Juju practices in Nigeria. The investigative journalist in the documentary was later called to give expert evidence at the trial, along with a second expert.

 

The testimony of these two experts was used primarily to bolster the credibility of the two complainants rather than contribute to the truth-finding nature of the trial. The introduction of expert evidence on the practice of Juju shifted the focus of the trial from whether there was truth in the prosecution’s case to whether Juju was practiced in rural parts of Nigeria.

 

Additionally, prior to the admission of expert evidence neither the prosecution nor judge conducted a thorough analysis of what the complainants said in their interviews about Juju practice to determine if expert evidence was essential to the trial. Thus, this was an incomplete and unjustified assessment. A review of the complainants’ interviews shows that they both made no mention of Juju or their fear of the police when they were interviewed before the documentary was shown on TV. Further, the expert evidence detailing the practice of Juju was not examined alongside the complainants’ details of the practice to assess whether their descriptions matched that of the expert witnesses. When compared, the practice is described differently by the respective parties which raises concern about whether the two women did experience Juju. The expert evidence placed disproportionate weight on the prosecution’s case that Juju was practiced in Nigeria which was not a fact in issue. It went outside the scope of the expertise to comment on the complainants’ credibility.

 

The prosecution also claimed Harrison traveled to Nigeria to bring one of the complainants to England for prostitution and trafficking. However, at the time in question, Harrison reported weekly to a government agency. His telephone records also cast doubt on the complainant’s claim as they confirm that all calls in the relevant period were made to and from London. None of the calls were to or from Nigeria. At the close of her evidence, the complainant retracted this statement.

During cross examination, Harrison’s assault charges from 2007, which were subsequently dropped, were brought into court, as was his citizenship status and the fact he lived with a man who was sentenced for trafficking offenses. The Judge did not disallow this bad character, despite the points not falling strictly within bad character evidence.

 

A number of erroneous decisions were made in court which led to Harrison’s wrongful conviction. An application has been made to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). Anthony Harrison remains in prison serving a 20-year sentence.