R v JF Alford [1997] 2 Cr APP R 326

Key points

  • An omission can amount to aiding and abetting where the defendant has control over the principal and knowledge of the offence
  • Where there is such knowledge, deliberately turning a blind eye is no defence


  • Truck drivers made false entries on tachograph record
  • The company, managing director and transport manager (Ds) were charged with aiding and abetting their offence

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • Appeal allowed – convictions quashed

Kennedy LJ

  • Where D has knowledge of the principal offence, the ability to control the action of the offender, but deliberately refrained from doing so, he is guilty of aiding and abetting
  • Citing NCB v Gamble, an accessory must have intended to do the acts which he knew to be capable of assisting or encouraging the commission of the crime, but he need not have intended that the crime be committed
  • Thus, if the management’s reason for turning a blind eye was to keep the drivers happy rather than to encourage the production of false tachograph records that would afford no defence
  • On the facts there was insufficient evidence that Ds had knowledge of the drivers’ actions, thus the convictions were overturned