GUILTY PLEAS

A total sentence of seven years and eight months’ detention was appropriate in the case of a young offender who had pleaded guilty to possessing Class B drugs, a sub-machine gun and compatible ammunition, having been pressured into holding them for a third party. Those who looked after lethal weapons for others had to expect severe sentences.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1509

A sentence of three years’ imprisonment was appropriate for an offender who had pleaded guilty to breaching a sexual offences prevention order. The offender was an entrenched paedophile who had groomed two women, buying Christmas presents for their children and accepting photographs of the children from them. He clearly represented a real and ongoing danger to children. However, it was relevant that the photographs had been given to him rather than him procuring them and that after six weeks he had handed them back to the mother who gave them to him.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1439

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

A sentence of two months’ imprisonment for bringing a controlled drug into a prison was appropriate despite the fact that the offender was a carer for her disabled daughter and grandchild. The judge had also been entitled to activate part of the offender’s suspended sentence for a different offence and order it to run consecutively.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1273

The court emphasised the importance of properly structuring the extension period to the length of a period of disqualification from driving as required by the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 s.35A and s.35B, and in accordance with the guidance in R. v Needham (Paul Maurice) [2016] EWCA Crim 455.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1243

An extended sentence of 18 years and five months, which included a custodial term of 13 years and five months, was appropriate in the case of the appellant, who had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and to three offences of having an imitation firearm with intent.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1151

In sentencing the appellant for robbery, the judge had erred by only allowing a 20% discount for his guilty plea. Given the stage at which the plea was tendered, the appropriate discount was 25%.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1046

A sentencing judge had erred in imposing consecutive sentences of 21 months’ imprisonment following an offender’s guilty pleas to two offences of theft occurring one week apart. The sentences should have been made concurrent. The judge had also given insufficient credit for the guilty pleas, which had been entered at the earliest opportunity.

[2017] EWCA Crim 905

A sentence of three years’ imprisonment was appropriate for perverting the course of justice by destroying a vehicle in which a driver had fatally struck a pedestrian and left the scene. Another person’s action of collecting the driver from his abandoned vehicle and taking him home had a less dramatic effect on the course of justice and a sentence of 16 months’ imprisonment was appropriate for his involvement. The underlying offence of causing death by dangerous driving was very serious and both had intended to achieve the aim of the driver avoiding facing responsibility for his criminal actions.

[2017] EWCA Crim 814

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

Sentences imposed for robbery, contrary to the Theft Act 1968 s.8(1) and for having an article with a blade or point in a public place, contrary to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 s.139(1), were increased as being unduly lenient where the judge had failed to apply the sentencing guidelines correctly, and given too much credit for guilty pleas.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1354

A sentencing judge had been entitled to take a starting point of 55 months in respect of an offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and to award only a 10% discount for a late guilty plea. The offender’s driving had caused devastating injuries to a cyclist, and if ever there was a case that compelled a review of the statutory maximum sentence for the offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, this was it.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1021

A suspended sentence of two years’ imprisonment was not unduly lenient for an offender who had pleaded guilty to child sex offences on the first day of trial, even though the judge had wrongly giving maximum credit for those pleas and had failed to properly differentiate between the sentencing guideline categorisation of the offences in terms of harm and culpability. A sentence in excess of two years could not be suspended, and the offender would have been unable to attend a sexual work programme pursuant to a rehabilitation activity requirement in those circumstances.

[2017] EWCA Crim 877

In a case concerning proceedings for breach of planning enforcement notices, the court quashed the magistrates’ court’s committal to the Crown Court for sentencing and confiscation proceedings where indications of the defendants’ guilty pleas had been given by their barrister. Guilty pleas in the magistrates’ court had to be indicated or entered by defendants personally.

[2017] EWHC 1092 (Admin)

Sentences of nine years and four months’ imprisonment/detention were appropriate in the case of three men who had pleaded guilty at a late stage to conspiracy to burgle.

[2017] EWCA Crim 623

Total sentences of two years’ imprisonment were appropriate for two offenders who had pleaded guilty to offences associated with the running of an illegal money-lending business combining cash loans and selling motor vehicles. There had been significant breaches of the regulatory regime put in place to control money lending, but there was no evidence of violence or threats and the interest rates charged were within the commercial range.

[2017] EWCA Crim 598

A total sentence of seven years’ detention was appropriate where a 17-year-old young offender had pleaded guilty to the rape of a 12-year-old family friend and an offence of robbery.

[2017] EWCA Crim 612

A recorder sentencing a burglar who had been caught red-handed had been entitled to rely on a 2007 Sentencing Council publication, which stated that credit for a guilty plea might be reduced to 20% if the prosecution case was overwhelming. The fact that a new draft guideline due to come into force shortly afterwards stated that there should be no reduction of credit in such circumstances did not change things; the recorder was obliged to apply the guideline in force at the relevant time.

[2017] EWCA Crim 506

A sentence of 16 months’ imprisonment following a guilty plea to doing an act intended to pervert the course of justice was too long. After having been charged with battery of his partner, an offender had asked his daughter to persuade his partner to change her evidence. Whilst the offender’s intended approach to his vulnerable victim aggravated the offence, there had not actually been any contact with her and a 12-month sentence was appropriate.

[2017] EWCA Crim 476

A professional footballer was refused permission to appeal against his conviction for sexual activity with a child under 16. Having permitted cross-examination on the timing of the footballer’s pleas of guilty to related grooming offences, it was unfortunate that the judge had not directed the jury on how to approach late guilty pleas. It would also have been wiser for the judge not to have given a direction in relation to adverse inferences, but neither error imperilled the safety of the conviction.

[2017] EWCA Crim 191

A sentence of nine years’ imprisonment following a guilty plea for causing grievous bodily harm with intent was reduced to eight years where the offender had deliberately reversed a car over the victim’s legs, causing very serious injuries. The offender had lived a blameless life until shortly before the incident, accepted full responsibility for her actions and would miss seeing her son grow up whilst she was in custody.

[2017] EWCA Crim 260

Convictions for robbery and murder were not rendered unsafe by the admission into evidence of a co-accused’s guilty plea. The Court of Appeal also considered the impact on the convictions of the decision in R. v Jogee (Ameen Hassan) [2016] UKSC 8 in relation to the issue of joint enterprise.

[2017] EWCA Crim 268

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

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.

[2017] EWCA Crim 251

A sentence of 21 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, imposed on a 49-year-old bar manager for an offence of assault by penetration against his 18-year-old employee was unduly lenient. The judge had applied too low a starting point and had given too much credit for the offender’s good character and guilty plea. An immediate sentence of 32 months’ imprisonment was appropriate.

[2017] EWCA Crim 272

Where an offender had pleaded guilty to two counts of rape of a child under 13, representing two separate allegations of rape, a judge had erred in sentencing on the basis that the offender had engaged in a repeated course of rape over a period of time.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1

A sentence of 30 months for assisting unlawful immigration contrary to the Immigration Act 1971 s.25(1) was reduced to 25 months in circumstances where the sentencing judge had been wrong to give her a discount of only 20% rather than the more usual one-third on the basis that she had absconded before sentencing. The lower deduction for absconding had in effect penalised her twice, as she had also been given a separate sentence for that offence.

[2017] EWCA Crim 6

Sentences of eight years’ and four and a half years’ imprisonment, imposed for blackmail and for threats to kill respectively, were not excessive where a prisoner with a bad record for violence had barricaded his cell door, taken his cellmate hostage and threatened to cut his throat.

[2017] EWCA Crim 472

A judge had erred in adopting too high a starting point and in failing to apply any reduction for mitigating factors when imposing a fine on a company following its guilty plea to failing to take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury, contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.33(1)(c).

[2016] EWCA Crim 2142

The Court of Appeal gave guidance on the credit that should be given for a guilty plea which was tendered after the start of a trial.

Convictions under the Malicious Damage Act 1861 s.36 for obstructing engines or carriages on railways were upheld where two men who had walked through the Channel Tunnel from France before being apprehended close to the English entrance. Their actions had caused rail services to be suspended and that interruption was plainly an obstruction of a number of engines and carriages.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1733

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.

An asylum seeker’s conviction for possession of an identity document with improper intention was quashed where the court was not confident that he was aware of his entitlement to raise the statutory defence under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 s.31 when he appeared at the Crown Court for entry of a plea.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2300

Medical evidence detailing a baby’s injuries that had been shaken was sufficient to justify advice to an appellant that he caused serious bodily injury to the child and to plead guilty to a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm. A subsequent acquittal from manslaughter as the jury was satisfied that the shaking had not caused the cerebral injuries leading to the child’s death years later, did not mean that the defence advanced for manslaughter would have been a successful defence to inflicting grievous bodily harm.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1321

Sentencing guidelines for dangerous driving recommended a one-third discount for an early guilty plea, but allowed a lower reduction of 20% where the evidence against an offender was overwhelming. A sentencing judge erred by applying a discount of 12.5% on the basis of the seriousness of the offending and his dissatisfaction with the length of the maximum sentence as the guidelines expressly forbade such an approach.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1398

A defendant who pleaded guilty to offences involving indecent photographs of children but later appealed against his conviction on the basis that he was pressured by counsel to plead guilty, was unsuccessful in his appeal. He had been properly advised throughout and there was no irregularity in relation to his plea.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1053

A sentence of three years’ imprisonment was appropriate in the case of the appellant, who had pleaded guilty to child abduction after unilaterally taking his daughter to a boarding school in India, separating her from her mother for three years.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1036

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

A sentence of 33 months’ imprisonment following a guilty plea to robbery at the earliest opportunity was reduced to one of 876 days’ imprisonment, which equated to three years’ imprisonment less a discount of 20%, where the judge had afforded the offender an insufficient discount for his plea.

An Iranian national who pleaded guilty to possession of a false passport had been properly advised by his legal representative as to statutory defences during the criminal proceedings and could not appeal against his conviction as he had made a fully informed decision to plead guilty.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1074

A judge had been entitled to go above the ranges indicated in the sentencing guidelines when sentencing offenders for aggravated burglary and wounding with intent involving the use of knives to threaten and torture two victims during a prolonged attack in their home. However, the judge had adopted too high a starting point of 30 years after a trial; a starting point of 25 to 26 years was appropriate.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1147

Concurrent sentences of seven years’ imprisonment for five counts of sexual assault of a child under 13 and two counts of rape of the same child, committed by a young offender over a seven-year period, were not unduly lenient where he had stopped his offending as soon as the victim asked him to, and admitted his guilt as soon as the offending was disclosed. Such candour required recognition in the sentencing exercise. Consecutive sentencing would have been better so as to differentiate between the sexual assaults and the rapes.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1386

A total sentence of three years’ imprisonment was appropriate for an offender who had pleaded guilty to two counts of making indecent photographs of children, one count of sending an offending message and one count of revenge, after he sent threatening messages to the cousin of the police officer investigating the indecent photograph offences.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1634

A mentally disordered offender’s culpability and responsibility for killing his parents in a savage and sustained knife attack was significant, notwithstanding his diminished responsibility. A life sentence with a minimum term of 19 years and 73 days’ imprisonment, together with a hospital and limitation direction under the Mental Health Act 1983 s.45A, was appropriate.

[2016] EWCA Crim 733

At the appellant’s trial for a joint enterprise robbery the judge had been entitled to admit evidence of a co-accused’s guilty plea. Although there was CCTV footage which showed that only the appellant could have been involved with the co-accused, the plea had not removed the appellant’s defence and, in any event, the jury would not have placed much reliance on it as the evidence against him was overwhelming.

The appellant’s submission that he should not be bound by his guilty pleas to offences under the Immigration Act 1971, the Identity Cards Act 2006 and the Identity Documents Act 2010 could not be accepted: he had been properly advised that his defence to the charges would quite probably have failed.

[2016] EWCA Crim 57

The court deprecated the practice whereby counsel, knowing of an error by the trial judge, simply sought to “pocket” the point and then produce it as a ground of appeal. Where counsel knew or ought to have known of a judge’s mistake, it was incumbent on them to bring the matter to his attention and to enable him if necessary to vary the sentence in accordance with the powers in the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 s.49(2).

[2016] NICA 17

Concessions made by the Crown as to the level of involvement of an individual who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, did not render his conviction unsafe. While the concessions led to the conclusion that he had been wrongly sentenced at a significant organisational level, the evidence enabled a clear inference to be drawn as to his involvement. The appropriate sentence after trial was 15 years’ imprisonment, reduced to 10 on account of his early guilty plea.

[2016] EWCA Crim 42

The appropriate sentence for an offender who had pleaded guilty shortly before trial to entering into a money laundering arrangement, after £5000 related to the sale of drugs had een seized from him, was two years and two months’ imprisonment.