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Cases - sentencing
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Adomako, R v [1994] HL
Attorney General’s References Nos. 19 & 20 (1990)
Banks, R v CA (2003)
Barker, R v (Andrew) (2000) CA
Bibi, R v (1980) CA
Brewster and others, R v (1998) CA
Brewster, R v (1980) CA
Chambers, R v (1983) CA
Clark, R v (1999) CA
Cook, R v CA (2003)
Cunningham, R v [1993] CA
Davies, R v (1997) CA
De Haan [1967] CA
Dorries, R v (1993)
Edwards, R v (1996)
Funnell, R v (1986)
H (Indecent assault) (1999) CA
Harper, R v (1968) CA
Hayes, R v (1999) CA

Hodgson, R v (1968) CA
Howells, R v [1999] CA
Hughes, R v (1988) CA
Ivey, R v (1981) CA
Jamieson, R v (1975) CA

Maka, R v (2005) CA
Morgan, R v (1990) CA
Offen, R v (2000) CA
Owen, R v (1992)
Pitman, R v (1997)
Price, R v (1971)
R v Home Secretary ex p Hindley (2000) HL
R v Home Secretary ex p Venables & Thompson [1997] HL
R v Home Secretary ex parte Smart (1991)
Reay, R v (1992) CA
Sargeant, R v (1975) CA
Sawoniuk, R v (1999)
Turner, R v (2000) CA
Whittaker, R v [1996] CA
Whitton, R v (1986) CA
Williams, R v [1974] CA

 

Adomako, R v [1994] HL

 

Red triangle indicating important information

 

[Sentencing – suspended sentences available in exceptional circumstances]

D an anaesthetist. During an operation he did not notice the breathing tube accidentally detaching from the machine and the supply of oxygen to the patient was stopped for almost five minutes, until the patient's heart stopped and an alarm sounded. The patient could not be resuscitated,

 

Held: Sentence of six months' imprisonment, suspended for a year appropriate.

 

D was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter

Attorney General’s References Nos. 19 & 20 (1990)

[Burglary - sentences]
DD committed aggravated burglary by entering the house of a lady aged 69 in the early hours of the morning. She was threatened with what she believed was a knife, which was held against her neck. Money was demanded, the room was ransacked and a number of items were stolen. The victim was threatened that her fingers would be cut off to remove her rings.

 

Held: Sentences of imprisonment of three years in the case of one offender and five years in the other were regarded as lenient by the Court of Appeal, but not unduly lenient such that increases were appropriate.

 

Banks, R v CA (2003)

The court once again stated that fines should be set at a level which allowed for their complete discharge within a period of 12 months, taking into account the offender's financial circumstances and the seriousness of the offence. 

 

Barker, R v (Andrew) (2000) CA

[Sentencing - permissible to pass consecutive extended licence periods - Crime and Disorder Act 1998, s 58]
D committed buggery, gross indecency, indecent assault on a male involving a consenting 16-year-old boy and a 12-year-old boy. He was sentenced to a total of ten years'

 

Held; Under s 58 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 consecutive extended licence periods are permissible even thought this could lead to disproportionate licence periods.

S 58 allowed the court for the purposes of preventing the offender from committing further offences and of securing his rehabilitation, to pass an extended sentence which had the effect of replacing the normal licence period by a licence period which would endure to the end of the extended sentence

 

10 years' imprisonment, with an extended licence period of 10 years in respect of certain of the offences. The total sentence of imprisonment was reduced to eight years' imprisonment and the extended licence period was reduced to five years

Bibi, R v (1980) CA

[Sentencing – need to protect the public]
D was convicted of involvement in a minor way in a plot to import cannabis, and was sentenced to three years' imprisonment,

 

Held:  Courts must examine each case to ensure, if an immediate custodial sentence is necessary, that the sentence is as short as possible consistent with the duty to protect the public and punish and deter the criminal.

 

Reduced to six months

Brewster and others, R v (1998) CA
[same offender as in Brewster (1980)]

 

Red triangle indicating important information

 

 

^[Burglary – sentencing guidelines]
D a formidable burglar with 33 previous convictions including R v Brewster (1980) whose criminal career started at the age of 8 Lord Bingham LCJ laid down sentencing guidelines for burglars, including self-induced addiction cannot be relied on as mitigation.

"There are some professional burglars whose records show that from an early stage they have behaved as predators preying on their fellow citizens, returning to their trade almost as soon as each prison sentence has been served. Such defendants must continue to receive substantial terms of imprisonment. There are, however, other domestic burglars whose activities are of a different character, and whose careers may lack any element of persistence or deliberation. They are entitled to more lenient treatment."

Sentence of 9 years confirmed

Brewster, R v (1980) CA

Red triangle indicating important information

 

^[Burglary – sentencing - 'professional burglars’]
A sentence of 10 years was approved in the case of such an offender, who had convictions for 57 burglaries in the previous 10 years and had committed two more burglaries while on parole, involving property worth £70,000.

Lawton LJ

"There is no hope of rehabilitating this man. There is no hope that he will be deterred by prison sentences. All that the courts can do with him and his like is to ensure that they do not carry out raids on other people's houses for very substantial periods. That is the justification for this sentence."

Chambers, R v (1983) CA

 

 

[Sentencing - guidance on diminished responsibility]
D suffered from anxiety depression, killed his wife after she deserted him.

 

Held: A hospital order is appropriate if the psychological reports warrant it.

Life imprisonment if a hospital order is inappropriate but D is a continued and unpredictable danger to the public.

Where D's responsibility was so impaired as to be minimal, a non-custodial sentence with supervision may be justified if he no longer poses any risk.

 

Guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Sentence reduced from ten years to eight

Clark, R v (1999) CA

[Sentencing – defendant’s previous good character to be considered]
D committed frauds totalling £18 000 over a six-year period and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment.

 

Held: The trial judge had not paid sufficient regard to D's work in raising four nieces and nephews in difficult circumstances after their mother died, nor to evidence of her involvement in local community and charitable activities. D's good character - not just the absence of previous convictions, but in a positive sense - should be recognised.

 

Sentence reduced to seven days

Cook, R v CA (2003)

[Sentencing application of guidelines]
D a bursar of school, stole £225,000 over a 5 year period. It was argued that R v Kefford should be applied to the sentencing of the case.

 

Held: The case of Kefford did not alter the sentencing guidelines in cases of breach of trust.

 

Cunningham, R v [1993] CA

[Sentencing – sentences intended to deter]
D robbed a small shop.

 

Held: The purposes of a custodial sentence are primarily punishment and deterrence. The vulnerability of small shops, the prevalence of this offence, and the resulting public concern, are factors that can legitimately be taken into account in assessing the seriousness of an offence, but it would be wrong to increase the sentence beyond a level commensurate with the offence simply to "make a special example of" an individual.

 

Four years' imprisonment reduced to three years on account of D's previous good character

Davies, R v (1997) CA

[Sentencing – appropriate to charge]
D guilty of buggery on his 15-year-old girlfriend V.

Judge directed the jury that V's consent was immaterial in view of her age, but subsequently sentenced D to four years' detention on the basis that the buggery had been against V's will.

 

Held: D had not been convicted of (nor even charged with) rape so judge had been wrong to make such an assumption.

 

Sentence varied to allow D's immediate release

De Haan [1967] CA

[Sentencing – sentence reduced for guilty plea and confession]
D committed housebreaking and larceny, sentenced to 4½ years' imprisonment.

 

Held: It is undoubtedly right that a confession of guilt should tell in favour of an accused person, because that is clearly in the public interest.

 

Reduced to 3 years

Dorries, R v (1993)

[Burglary - sentencing]
DD pleaded guilty to burglary of a shop. Removing bricks from a wall had effected entry, and property worth £600 had been taken. A hammer, crowbar and radio scanner were found in their car. 

 

Held: Only a custodial sentence could be justified

 

Sentence reduced from ten months to six months

Edwards, R v (1996)

Red triangle indicating important information

[Burglary - sentencing]
The appropriate level of sentencing for serious house burglary where the house was unoccupied was three years.

Where the house was occupied and the burglary was at night the bracket would start at four years.

 

Funnell, R v (1986)

[Burglary aggravated - sentencing]
DD burgled the home of a man of 84, armed with an imitation firearm, and tied up the victim.

 

Held: Nine years’ imprisonment was reduced to six.

H (Indecent assault) (1999) CA

[Sentencing – effect of victim impact statements
D's committed eleven offences of indecent assault against six girls many years earlier.

 

Held: A sentencing judge must approach victim impact statements with great care, as they were necessarily untested by cross-examination and so reflected one side of the case only.

 

Nine years reduced to six years

Harper, R v (1968) CA

[Sentencing – to be for offences charged]
D guilty of receiving stolen goods, sentenced to five years' imprisonment.

In his sentence, the Recorder (Argyle QC) remarked on the fact that the defence had involved allegations of perjury by witnesses and improper conduct by the police.

 

Held: It was quite improper for a judge to use language that might convey that a man was being sentenced because he had chosen to plead not guilty. But it was, of course, proper to give a lesser sentence if the defendant had shown genuine remorse, among other things by pleading guilty.

 

Sentence reduced to three years

Hayes, R v (1999) CA

[Sentencing – effect on victim of sentence]
D robbed his great-grandmother in her home.  Sentenced to 2 years probation.

 

Held: Additional distress would be caused to the victim if he imposed a custodial sentence in this case. A sentence cannot depend on the victim's wishes: some victims want revenge, others want to exercise mercy, and others do not want to be subjected to the pressure if their views are given weight. That does not mean that the victim is to be ignored, but the responsibility rests with the judge. In the instant case the sentence was a lenient one, but not unduly or improperly so.

 

Application by the Attorney-General's to increase as "unduly lenient" refused

Howells, R v [1999] CA

[Sentencing “so serious” test – guidelines not applicable]
Seven defendants appealed against sentence and they were heard as conjoined appeals,

 

Held: The "so serious" test for a custodial sentence cannot be applied in relation to the views of "right-thinking members of the public" as is sometimes suggested.  The court has no way of ascertaining such people's views and inevitably ends up substituting its own.

 

Guidelines on “so serious” and length of term would be dangerous and wrong, 

 

Cases that were on or near the custody threshold, courts will usually find it helpful to begin by considering the nature and extent of the defendant s criminal intention and of any injury or damage caused to the victim.

 

Hodgson, R v (1968) CA

 

 

R v Hodgson CA (1968) 52 Cr. App. R. 113

^[Sentencing – life imprisonment – when justified]
The defendant (aged 23) was sentenced to life imprisonment on each of two charges of rape and one of buggery (the offences having been committed on women in public places at night).

 

He was also sentenced to prison for two and four years respectively on charges of assaulting women, occasioning actual bodily harm in the one case and having an intent to rob in the other. He had previous convictions for assault on women.

 

His appeal against the sentences of life imprisonment dismissed, the sentences were proper.

Held: A sentence of life imprisonment is justified:
(1) where the offence or offences are in themselves grave enough to require a very long sentence;
(2) where it appears from the nature of the offences or from the defendant's history that he is a person of unstable character likely to commit such offences in the future; and
(3) where if the offences are committed the consequences to others may be specially injurious, as in the case of sexual offences or crimes of violence.

Comment: The principles laid down by the Lord Chief Justice have been followed and applied subsequently and have been subject to a series amendments.

 

Hughes, R v (1988) CA

[Sentencing – just deserts]
D punched an older man V in the face. V struck his head as he fell, and suffered brain injuries from which he died. D was initially charged with common assault; the prosecution was dropped when he agreed to be bound over. V then died and D was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for manslaughter.

 

Held: Those who indulge in violence must plainly understand that if death results, however unintended, condign punishment must inevitably follow.

Reducing this to two years on appeal

 

Ivey, R v (1981) CA

[Sentencing – sentences intended to deter]
D of previous good character was drawn into a fight started by someone else, and caused V serious injuries by stamping on his head.

 

Held: The courts must do all in their power by exemplary sentences to deter such behaviour.

 

Sentence of four years' imprisonment for causing grievous bodily harm with intent upheld

Jamieson, R v (1975) CA

[Sentencing - not to include element for electing jury trial]
D stole a bottle of whisky from a shop.  He was of previous good character. A fine of £300 imposed.

 

Held: Judge had not actually said he was increasing the sentence because D had elected trial in the Crown Court, but he would make it clear for the record that such a thing would not be acceptable.

 

D depressed at the time of the offence conditional discharge substituted

Maka, R v (2005) CA

[Sentencing - principles – deterrent]
D had been involved in the trafficking of a 15-year-old Lithuanian girl who had been tricked into coming to the United Kingdom.  She was subsequently sold by the defendant a number of times, leading her to being raped and forced to work in brothels as a prostitute.

Held: The total sentence of 18 years on conviction for trafficking was severe but it was appropriately severe. Human trafficking had echoes of slavery. Deterrence to others who took part in such activities was a highly material consideration and the deterrence applied to others in Lithuania or other parts of Europe.

The judge at trial stated that 120,000 women were being sent from the East to the West annually, and that the rate was increasing by up to 10% per year. He said that Lithuanians were particularly vulnerable since the country had entered the European Union, as Lithuanian criminals were targeting the United Kingdom.

Trafficking is contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Attorney General’s Reference (No 6 of 2004) [2004] considered.

Appeal dismissed

Morgan, R v (1990) CA

[Sentencing – basis for sentencing must have value]
D a train driver went through a yellow signal at full speed; he was unable to stop at the red signal, which followed, and five people died in the collision, which followed.

 

Held: On the one hand criminal behaviour (which this was) should be punished; the offender should expiate what he had done, and public disapproval should be marked to prevent people taking the law into their own hands. But to send a man such as this to prison would do no good to him and no good perhaps to society either; he had admitted his fault from the outset, his career was at an end, and the results of his carelessness would live on his conscience for as long as he lived.

 

Guilty manslaughter sentence reduced from six months to four months' imprisonment

Offen, R v (2000) CA

 

 

Red triangle indicating important information

 

[Sentencing – exceptional circumstances – life sentences]
D committed second serious crime separated by some years.

This was one of several appeals heard at the same time

 

Held: An offender who does not present a significant risk to the public is an "exceptional circumstance" that can allow a court to impose a sentence less than the automatic life sentence for a "second serious offence".

A long gap between the two offences in which no other offences were committed, or two very different offences, or the age of the offender, could all be circumstances that although otherwise normal might properly be regarded as "exceptional" in this context. This would mean the sentence was not disproportionate to the risk, and would thus accord with the Human Rights Act 1998.

 

Owen, R v (1992) 

Red triangle indicating important information

 

[Sentencing – basis for sentencing must have value]
D's son had been killed by a very careless driver T, who was sent to prison for twelve months. This was not enough to appease D's anger, and when T was released D went to his home and fired at him with a sawn-off shotgun, wounding him in the back and arm.

 

Held: D acquitted of attempted murder and wounding with intent suggesting the jury shared his feelings of outrage.

 

Not guilty

Pitman, R v (1997)

[Sentencing – suspended sentences available in exceptional circumstances]
D, 46yrs assisted the suicide of his mother by holding a shotgun to her head while she pulled the trigger. She had suffered years of agony from rheumatoid arthritis and was determined to die.

 

Held: There was no risk of D's re-offending, but the offence called for a sentence of nine months' imprisonment; in the exceptional circumstances, it would be suspended for two years.

 

Price, R v (1971)

[Sentencing - rehabilitation]
D placed his son aged six, who had the mental capacity of a baby and a short life expectancy in a river and watched him float away; the boy drowned.

 

Held: D put on probation for a year on condition that he underwent "such treatment as a doctor may prescribe for the next few weeks or so".

 

Guilty manslaughter, diminished responsibility

R v Home Secretary ex p Hindley (2000) HL

Red triangle indicating important information

 

[Sentencing – Home Secretary to decide length of prison term in life sentences]
The murderer Myra Hindley unsuccessfully sought judicial review of the Home Secretary's decision that she should remain in prison for the rest of her natural life.

 

Held: The Home Secretary has the power to set a "whole life tariff" for retribution and deterrence, so long as he does not exclude altogether the possibility of reconsideration if the prisoner makes exceptional progress. Even where the Parole Board recommends release (or in Hindley's case, transfer to an open prison) the Home Secretary is free to reject this recommendation.

 

R v Home Secretary ex p Venables & Thompson [1997] HL

 

Red triangle indicating important information

[Sentencing – media campaigns to be ignored – although public opinion relevant]
Venables and Thompson murder a 2 year old, Jamie Bulger.  They were sentenced to be detained during Her Majesty's Pleasure.  The trial judge recommended they serve at least eight years, the Lord Chief Justice recommended ten, and the Home secretary set the tariff period at fifteen years.

 

Held: Quashing the Home Secretary’s ruling, he had been wrong to take into account a 250 000-signature petition organised by the victim's family, 4000 letters from members of the public, and 20 000 coupons sent in by readers of The Sun. This material was worthless and incapable of informing the Home Secretary as to the true state of public opinion.

 

R v Home Secretary ex parte Smart (1991)

[Sentencing Home Secretary’s role in adult murder cases]
The Home Secretary is the sole judge of how long a person convicted of murder should spend in custody - the judiciary may only make recommendations.

 

Reay, R v (1992) CA

[Sentencing – discount for guilty plea not always available]
D aged 15 took a high-powered car and drove it recklessly.  He had a history of failing to respond to non-custodial sentences, was on bail when he committed his final offence, and probably pleaded guilty only because he had been caught red-handed and had no real hope of acquittal.

 

Held: The discount for pleading guilty was not an inflexible rule, and some offences were so serious as to require the maximum sentence despite a guilty plea.

 

Twelve months' detention (the maximum allowed by law at that time) considered correct.

Sargeant, R v (1975) CA

[Sentencing – purposes retribution, deterrence prevention and rehabilitation]
D A club bouncer caused an affray and was sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

 

Held: The classical principles are summed up in four words: retribution, deterrence, prevention and rehabilitation. Any judge who comes to sentence ought always to have those principles in minds and apply them to the facts to see which is most important in the case with which he is dealing.

The kind of violence that occurred in this case called for a custodial sentence. For men of good character the very fact that prison gates have closed behind them is the main punishment. It does not necessarily follow that they should remain closed for a long time.

 

Sentence reduced to about six months' imprisonment to allow his immediate discharge

Sawoniuk, R v (1999)

[Sentencing maintaining societies values – denunciation by society]
D, aged 78, a former Belarusian policeman accused of war crimes committed in 1942 was prosecuted under the War Crimes Act 1991 and convicted on two specimen counts of murder.

 

Held: D was sentenced to life imprisonment on each count.

Turner, R v (2000) CA

[Sentencing – unjust sentences]
D wounding V with intent.  D's conviction for manslaughter 33 years earlier, for which he had served a sentence of 3 years' imprisonment.

 

Held: The sentence was automatic under the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997   neither provocation nor the passage of time were "exceptional circumstances" allowing a lesser sentence, and the court was constrained (as Parliament must have realised would happen) to impose a sentence that offended against its sense of justice.

 

Guilty of wounding with intent, life imprisonment.

Whittaker, R v [1996] CA

[Sentencing - incapacitation - a relevant factor]
D attacked a young woman within hours of his release on weekend leave after serving 17 years of a life sentence for murder,

Trial judge sentenced him to seven years' imprisonment, and the Attorney-General referred the sentence to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient

 

Held:  A discretionary life sentence was appropriate where

(i) a defendant had been convicted of a very serious offence and

(ii) there were good reasons for thinking that he might remain a serious danger to the public, for a period which could not as yet be determined. Evidence of the defendant's mental state might be highly relevant in determining the latter, but it was not essential, and D's previous conviction made it unnecessary in this case.

 

Acquitted of attempted murder sentence increased to life imprisonment, with seven years as the fixed period for retribution and deterrence. Convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Whitton, R v (1986) CA

[Sentencing – sentences intended to deter]
D a persistent football hooligan was convicted of riotous assembly outside a football ground and the trial judge imposed a sentence of life imprisonment, intending it to serve as a deterrent to others.

 

Held: Except where life imprisonment is mandatory it should be reserved for crimes of exceptional gravity or cases where the defendant is likely to be a danger to others or suffers from marked mental instability. Football hooliganism was a serious matter, he said, and sentences aimed at discouraging such behaviour were necessary, but the sentence imposed was nowhere near justified by the circumstances of the case.

 

Term reduced to three years, consecutive to seven years for other offences.

Williams, R v [1974] CA

[Sentencing - debt owed to society]
DD attempted to bugger a sheep, late one night after they had been drinking.

 

Held: Sentencing them to twelve months' imprisonment, the judge said the kindest thing he could do would be to visit upon DD the outrage that any decent person would feel, so that no one in their small village could say afterwards that they had not paid for their crime.

 

Sentence suspended for two years but there was nothing wrong with the judge's approach.



 

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