AGGRAVATING FEATURES

The court reduced, from 11 years to 10 years’ imprisonment, the sentences imposed on the parents of a 17-week-old child following their convictions for causing or allowing her death. Although there were numerous aggravating features, including an attempt to cover up the circumstances of her death, insufficient weight had been given to the finding that the parents had had constructive, rather than actual, knowledge of the significant risk of serious harm to their child.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1686

A sentence of two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, was unduly lenient for 36 incidents of perverting the course of justice by providing false details on behalf of motorists caught speeding or failing to stop at traffic lights. After allowance for the guilty plea, the appropriate sentence was three years’ immediate imprisonment.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1357

A total sentence of two years and six months’ imprisonment was appropriate following pleas of guilty to burglary and theft of a car. The offender had entered the house of his ex-girlfriend without permission, threatening her with a screwdriver and taking her car keys before stealing her car. The burglary came within Category 1 of the definitive guidelines and was seriously aggravated by the offender’s appalling criminal record and the domestic violence element of the offence.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1398

The appropriate sentence where an offender who had attacked police officers with a hammer had pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, was life imprisonment with a minimum term of three years, taking into account the offender’ guilty plea, the early release provisions, and the time that he had already spent in custody.

Where four men had attacked another man by punching him and stamping on him, convictions against two of them for causing grievous bodily harm with intent under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 s.18 were quashed and substituted with convictions for causing grievous bodily harm under s.20, as medical evidence not adduced until after trial strongly suggested that a blow from one of the others had caused the victim’s brain injury. The further evidence was demonstrably credible, it had been positively agreed and was highly relevant.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1325

Minimum terms of 29 and 26 years’ imprisonment for murder committed by two 22-year-old offenders were not manifestly excessive where they had subjected the victim to a brutal attack in his own home. The lengthier term for one offender reflected the further aggravating factor of his guilty plea to perverting the course of justice, his previous convictions and lack of remorse. It was also relevant that the offenders had conspired to rob the victim, for which they received concurrent sentences of 13 years.

[2017] EWCA Crim 834

Minimum terms of 17-and-a-half years’ detention were appropriate for a 14-year-old boy and girl who had planned and brutally carried out the murder of the girl’s mother and younger sister. The removal of reporting restrictions was a reasonable and proportionate measure, notwithstanding the age of the appellants, properly balancing their welfare against ECHR art.10 rights and the public interest.

[2017] EWCA Crim 739

Life sentences with a total minimum term of 23 years were imposed on offenders who had tortured a couple in their 60s in order to force them to hand over a large quantity of cash and had later shot a man in the head in a conspiracy to kill him.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1353

A sentence of four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment imposed on an airline passenger who had started a fire in the toilet of an aeroplane travelling at 33,000 ft and carrying over 200 people was unduly lenient. A sentence of nine-and-a-half years’ imprisonment was appropriate. Given that there was no sentencing guideline for the offence of arson, the Crown should provide a sentencing note for judges setting out relevant cases and sentences.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1366

A sentence of six years’ imprisonment for burglary was appropriate where the offender had used subterfuge to gain the trust of an elderly man on more than one occasion, and had numerous similar previous convictions involving vulnerable victims, which showed an attitude of ingrained recidivism.

A suspended sentence given to an 18-year-old offender, following guilty pleas to sexual offences with his 14-year-old girlfriend, who became pregnant and underwent a termination as a result, was increased to an immediate custodial sentence of 30 months, where the judge had incorrectly applied the sentencing guidelines on the advice of the Crown.

[2017] EWCA Crim 492

The court considered the appropriate length of sentences for eight defendants following their high level involvement in a conspiracy to supply large quantities of controlled drugs. It considered the inferences made by the trial judge from the evidence as to the scale of the drug trafficking.

[2017] EWCA Crim 558

Minimum terms of 28 years’ imprisonment were appropriate following the conviction of two brothers for the callous, carefully planned murder of a woman with whom one of the brothers had been in a sexual relationship. The motive for the murder involved an element of gain, as the mutual employer of the victim and the brother actively discouraged such relationships between employees, which placed his employment and financial future at risk.

[2017] EWCA Crim 419

A sentence of six-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, following guilty pleas to conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon for sale or transfer, possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of criminal property and possession of ammunition without a firearms certificate, was increased to eight-a-half years. Deterrent sentencing was required for a conspiracy that involved two working firearms and ammunition, in line with guidance from the Court of Appeal.

A sentence of four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment was appropriate for the offence of conspiracy to facilitate breach of immigration control where the individual had pleaded guilty, his involvement had been for a very short period, was peripheral and he had not stood to make any financial gain.

[2017] EWCA Crim 695

A total sentence of nine months’ imprisonment for offences of possessing an indecent image of a child, making an indecent category A image of a child, possession of prohibited images of children and possession of extreme pornographic images was manifestly excessive. Notwithstanding that a custodial sentence was required, the judge had erred in concluding that there was no basis to suspend it when the offender was willing to engage with rehabilitation, there were no aggravating features and there was strong mitigation available; the sentence was reduced to six months, suspended for 18 months.

[2017] EWCA Crim 93

A district judge, having considered the Extradition Act 2003 s.21A, had been entitled to conclude that it would not be disproportionate to extradite an individual accused of a fraud offence. Notwithstanding that under domestic sentencing guidelines the offence fell into the lower category of harm, many factors indicating lesser culpability were absent and there were aggravating factors.

An offender was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving where he had consumed a large amount of alcohol, had driven dangerously for a prolonged period and had failed to stop at the scene. In cases of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm or death a deterrent sentence had to be imposed.

[2017] NICA 1

A sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for three counts of cruelty to a child was unduly lenient where there had been three separate victims, and the abuse had taken place over five years and had included sadistic acts. The appropriate sentence was three years’ imprisonment.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2156

When sentencing an offender for causing serious injury by dangerous driving it was possible to take account of all of the injuries caused by the offence and not only those that were serious. A sentence of two years’ imprisonment imposed following a guilty plea to causing serious injury by dangerous driving was not manifestly excessive; the driving fell within category 1 of the sentencing guidelines, the offence involved four cars and numerous injuries and was aggravated by the offender’s previous driving convictions.

The court quashed two convictions for possessing prohibited ammunition where the ammunition was not prohibited but was unlawful without a certificate. A total sentence of five years’ imprisonment following guilty pleas to possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of a controlled Class A drug with intent to supply was unduly lenient; applying considerations of totality, the appropriate sentence was eight years’ imprisonment.

Immediate custodial sentences of between 12 and 18 months imposed on three young men of positive good character following their guilty pleas to offences of violent disorder while attending an illegal rave were not manifestly excessive where each had engaged in mindless violence against the police while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The judge had been entitled to pass sentences which included an element of deterrence.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1947

A sentence of five years’ imprisonment following guilty pleas to three charges of intentionally encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence, two charges of making indecent photographs of a child, possession of an extreme pornographic image, three charges of distributing an indecent pseudo-photograph of children, and one charge of publishing an obscene article, was not manifestly excessive where the judge had passed some consecutive sentences, but had correctly applied the sentencing guidelines and given appropriate discounts for the offender’s guilty pleas and the principle of totality.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2145

An informal recognition of a suspect by a police officer from a colleague’s photographs from an unrelated case was different from the formal procedure set out in PACE Code D. A judge had been right to leave the issue of the police officer’s identification evidence for the jury to decide with appropriate directions.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2124

A sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 10 years was appropriate following a conviction for attempted murder where the offender was suffering from a mental disorder requiring hospital treatment. The judge had not erred in finding that the mental disorder could be appropriately dealt with by imposing a sentence of imprisonment with a hospital and limitation direction under the Mental Health Act 1983 s.45A. However, the mental disorder was a significant factor which lowered the offender’s culpability.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2023

A judge had erred in taking a starting point of 30 years when setting a minimum term of imprisonment in respect of a defendant’s life sentence for murder. The defendant had set his partner alight which had led to her death, but the judge had placed too much weight on cases of pre-planned and deliberate arson causing death which attracted 30-year starting points. A starting point of 15 years was more appropriate.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2098

Concurrent sentences of five-years-and-four-months’ imprisonment for an oral and a vaginal rape were unduly lenient. The starting point should have been 11 years to reflect the fact that two offences were committed at a remote location, involving a prolonged struggle during which the offender raped the victim without a condom and ejaculated.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1856

A judge had erred in finding that an offender’s previous convictions together with aggravating factors lifted the sentence for a category 2C burglary outside the sentencing guideline range.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2084

A sentence of 20 months’ imprisonment imposed following guilty pleas to charges of fraud, possession of false identification documents with intent and two charges of possession of articles for use in fraud, was reduced to 15 months, where the offender had admitted his guilt immediately and given information to the police that led to the apprehension and charge of another offender.

A sentence of four years’ imprisonment was appropriate for attempted robbery where the offender had carried out a sustained attack on a taxi driver at night, stopping only when the victim pressed a panic button. The offender had several previous convictions for violent offences and was under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1783

A sentence of five years and eight months in a young offender institute, following guilty pleas to two charges of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, two charges of having an article with a point or blade and one charge of having a firearm in a public place, was increased to seven years and eight months to mark the seriousness of the separate weapons offences, where the judge had dealt with them as aggravating the drugs offences, rather than as separate offences.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2091

A 17-year sentence, following convictions for cruelty to a 17-month-old child and for his murder, was increased to 20 years where the offender had subjected the child to sustained violence in the weeks leading up to his death. A sentence of 20 months’ imprisonment imposed on the child’s mother following her guilty plea to child cruelty was increased to 30 months, where she had failed to alert the authorities to the injuries that she was aware the child had sustained.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2108

A minimum term of 19 years imposed following an offender’s guilty plea to the murder of his step-mother, which involved repeated stabbing with a kitchen knife followed by stamping to the head, was not a fair reflection of the competing aggravating and mitigating factors and was manifestly excessive. A minimum term of 16 years and eight months was appropriate.

[2015] EWCA Crim 2532

The court allowed three offenders’ appeals against their sentences for murder, manslaughter and perverting the course of justice. The minimum term applicable to the sentence of life imprisonment for murder was reduced from 18 years to 16 years, the custodial term of 12 years for the extended sentence for manslaughter was reduced to 10 years, and the sentence of three years and four months for perverting the course of justice was reduced to two years.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1644

When sentencing an offender, who had an appalling criminal record, to two years’ imprisonment for an offence of handling stolen goods, a judge had not followed the sentencing guidelines and had failed to give reasons for doing so. The correct sentence, with full credit for an early guilty plea, was 12 months’ imprisonment.

A sentence of three years’ detention for causing death by dangerous driving for a boy aged 15 at the time of the accident was not inappropriate. The inherent gravity of the offence and its consequences, coupled with the aggravating features, had entitled the sentencing judge to find that the case could only be met with a detention period under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.91.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1323

A sentence of three years’ imprisonment following a guilty plea to burglary, whilst severe, was not manifestly excessive where there were substantial aggravating features and the evidence against the offender was overwhelming. The offender had entered a house at night when the occupants, a mother and her autistic son, were upstairs and had taken property including a television.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1084

The concept of abduction in harm category 2 of the sentencing guidelines for rape was not a matter of distance. A sentence of eight years’ imprisonment following a guilty plea to a historic offence of rape was justified where the offender, who had previous convictions for indecent exposure with intent to assault a female, had raped the victim twice in an incident which had caused her lifelong harm.

The court criticised counsel for failing to take advantage of the slip rule provisions in the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.155. The instant appeal was heard within the 56-day period within which the slip rule could have been invoked and, whilst the need for an appeal might not have been obviated, the sentencing judge would have had the chance to reconsider the appropriate sentence.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1317

An offence of burglary fell into category 2 of the sentencing guideline for domestic burglary as a case involving greater harm and lower culpability where the offender had been suffering drug-induced psychosis at the time of the offence. That factor was to be taken into consideration as a mental disorder indicating lower culpability.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1226

The court declined to set a minimum term under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.276 and Sch.22 para.2(b) in relation to a life prisoner who had pleaded guilty to six counts of murder in 1979. A whole life tariff was appropriate because his offences fell into the category of “exceptional seriousness” in Sch.21 para.4(1), and the fact that he suffered from a personality disorder was not enough to affect that conclusion.

[2016] EWHC 731 (QB)

A determinate sentence of 12 months comprising six months in custody and six months on licence was appropriate for an offender who had pleaded guilty to four offences under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 after he had unlawfully deposited, kept and treated controlled waste on his land.

[2016] NICA 9

A sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment following a guilty plea to wounding with intent was unduly lenient. The victim had been stabbed with a knife three times and was kicked whilst on the ground. A sentence of five years’ imprisonment was appropriate in the circumstances.

[2016] EWCA Crim 37

A judge had been entitled to increase an offender’s sentence for conspiracy to supply a class A drug to reflect the fact that he had absconded from Spain to avoid a sentence for a similar offence. A sentence of 10 years-and-eight months’ imprisonment for a conspiracy involving 3kg of cocaine at over 65% purity was appropriate.

[2016] EWCA Crim 195

A determinate custodial sentence of seven years, comprising three-and-a-half years in custody and the same period on licence, was appropriate in the case of the appellant, who had been convicted of the rape and sexual assault of a 52-year-old woman.

[2016] NICA 3

Convictions for rape, assault by penetration and kidnap were not arguably unsafe where, despite inconsistencies in hearsay evidence and missing CCTV, the judge had given a measured assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown’s case and had directed the court’s mind to disadvantages endured by the appellant. A sentence of 13 years’ imprisonment was reduced to nine years where the judge had wrongly relied on an abuse of trust.

[2015] EWCA Crim 2376

Sentences of 10 and 15 years’ imprisonment respectively were appropriate for the manslaughter of a child committed by a mother and her close friend. The sentencing judge had fallen into error in sentencing one of the offenders on the basis that the child had also been subjected to physical abuse amounting to a form of torture, when that had not formed part of the indictment and had not been admitted or proved.

A minimum term of 18 years was appropriate for an offence of murder where the offender stabbed the victim after leading him away from a confrontation, but did not have an intention to kill.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1953

A sentence of two years’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, following a guilty plea to one offence of blackmail, was increased to an immediate custodial sentence of three years’ where an offender had pursued a campaign of blackmail against the victim and threatened to expose explicit photographs of her, which in itself would have been a separate criminal offence.

When sentencing an offender to life imprisonment for attempted murder, a judge had been entitled to use a starting point for the minimum term above the range for level one offences in the sentencing guidelines. The offender had a previous conviction for manslaughter during which he had stabbed his first victim to death, he was on licence at the time of the attempted murder offence and had taken a knife with him to the second victim’s home in order to commit the offence.

[2015] EWCA Crim 2540