A magistrates’ court had failed to adopt the correct approach when rejecting a submission of no case to answer in respect of a charge of robbery.
ACQUISITION OF CRIMINAL PROPERTY
When sentencing for an offence of possession of criminal property, which related to money obtained fraudulently from elderly, vulnerable victims, a judge had properly had regard to the sentencing guidelines for the underlying offence of fraud. The level of harm associated with the offence was very significant and it warranted an upward adjustment to the top of the sentencing guidelines range for money laundering, being three years’ imprisonment.
Following the appellant’s conviction for possessing criminal property, the sentencing judge had been entitled to find that he had been involved in a drug deal when found in possession of a large amount of cash. However, the judge had erred by sentencing the appellant by reference solely to the sentencing guidelines for drug offences; he should also have had regard to the guidelines for money-laundering offences. The appellant’s sentence of four and a half years’ imprisonment would be replaced by a two-and-a-half-year term.
A total sentence of two years’ imprisonment was appropriate following pleas of guilty to distributing infringing articles contrary to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 s.107(1)(d), furnishing false information contrary to the Theft Act 1968 s.17(1)(b) and possessing criminal property contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 s.329(1). For a sustained period, the offender had copied or produced audio books, without the appropriate licences or permissions, and had sold them through the internet for a profit of £56,000.
Defendants who wanted full credit for their guilty pleas had to plead early and advance a realistic basis of plea. A reduction of one-fifth rather than one-third was appropriate in the case of two offenders who, despite entering early guilty pleas, had not submitted acceptable bases of plea until the date fixed for a Newton hearing.