MITIGATION

A sentence of two years’ imprisonment following a guilty plea to two counts of fraudulent evasion of duty contrary to the Customs & Excise Management Act 1971 s.170(2) was manifestly excessive in circumstances where the offender had become involved in the criminal activity through coercion and intimidation. A sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years with a two-year supervision requirement was substituted.

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 of Appeal refused to reopen an application for leave to appeal against sentence where the offender had been denied the opportunity of an oral hearing due to an administrative error. The court had the discretion to reopen a case in those circumstances, but the offender’s long delay in seeking to reopen her case meant that it would be inappropriate to exercise that discretion.

[2017] EWCA Crim 819

A sentence of six years and eight months’ imprisonment for attempted murder, where the offender had stabbed his friend several times in an unplanned attack following an argument, was not unduly lenient. Although the friend had suffered serious and long-term physical harm in the form of facial disfigurement, which justified a starting point of 15 years’ imprisonment, the offender’s immediate reporting of the incident to the police and his remorse were exceptional and required additional allowance going beyond the one-third discount for his early guilty plea.

[2017] EWCA Crim 577

A sentence of 12 months’ detention, suspended for 18 months, was appropriate for a 19-year-old offender who had taken part in a burglary at the house of his mother’s neighbour.

[2017] EWCA Crim 509

A custodial sentence of four months’ imprisonment for an offence of escape contrary to common law was suspended in circumstances where the mitigation advanced on the offender’s behalf and the particular circumstances were sufficient to enable the court to extend compassion to such an extent that the inevitable custodial sentence could be lifted.

[2017] EWCA Crim 434

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

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 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

A 12-year sentence following guilty pleas to 20 charges of burglary of unoccupied homes was reduced to 10 years where the judge had given too little weight to the absence of any confrontation or violence used against the victims. A sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment, following guilty pleas to six charges of handling stolen goods, was reduced to thirteen-and-a-half months, where the judge had put the offences in the wrong sentencing category.

A sentence of seven years’ imprisonment, imposed by a Court Martial following a conviction for assault by penetration, was reduced to six years where the judge advocate had double-counted certain factors, using them to determine the sentencing category and starting point and then to increase the sentence, and where he had given insufficient weight to the offender’s mitigation, particularly as she had lost her army career.

A sentence of five years’ detention imposed on a 20-year-old offender for possession of a prohibited weapon, namely a stun gun disguised as a lipstick, was reduced to three years as there were exceptional circumstances relating to the offence and the offender’s personal mitigation to justify a departure from the prescribed minimum term.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2178

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 12 months’ imprisonment imposed on a demonstrator convicted of violent disorder following an early plea of guilty was suspended. The offender had exceptional personal mitigation, which should have been taken into account.

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

A judge sentencing an offender for kidnapping had been correct not to give him any credit for the fact that his criminal record was less serious than those of his co-defendants. When an offence was serious, the co-defendants’ relative convictions might well not be a significant feature in arriving at the correct sentence.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1406

A judge had erred in imposing the mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment following guilty pleas to firearms offences. The appropriate sentence for three counts of possession of a disguised weapon, namely a stun gun disguised as a torch, was two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment where the mitigating factors had a cumulative effect and there were exceptional circumstances which justified the imposition of a lesser sentence.

Minimum terms imposed in respect of life sentences for murder were reduced as, notwithstanding the appalling and terrorising nature of the criminality involved, extended over two grave incidents involving firearms, terms of 26 to 36 years were too long given the relatively young age of the offenders and their lack of a history of serious violent offending.

[2016] EWCA Crim 890

A court sentenced two offenders, who had admitted various breaches of an injunction restraining them from car cruising within particular local government areas, each to a 28-day custodial concurrent sentence, suspended in light of the totality of the mitigation.

[2016] EWHC 878 (QB)

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)

An offender who, with another, had prevented a rape victim from calling the police for fear that police involvement would result in loss of their tenancy, had his prison sentence of six years for false imprisonment and a concurrent three years for assault reduced to match that of the co-accused, namely four-and-a-half and two years respectively. The rapist had received an eight-year prison sentence.

A total sentence of 11 years instead of 13 years was more appropriate for an offence of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and an offence of burglary. Although the offences were serious, the sentence was excessive having regard to all the circumstances.

A sentence of 15 years’ detention was appropriate for a 17-year-old offender following his conviction for the attempted murder of a 15-year-old fellow-pupil in a planned revenge attack during which the victim’s skull was fractured with a hammer. Despite the offender’s age, no mitigation arose from the fact that the attack might have been motivated by the victim having had a relationship with the offender’s younger sister and the fact that the offender claimed to have been subjected to cultural pressure as a result.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1816

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 suspended sentence of two years’ imprisonment imposed on a 54-year-old woman following her plea of guilty to possessing a prohibited firearm was unduly lenient. Although the woman had been in possession of the firearm for only a few minutes without knowing what it was, she had nevertheless been involved in attempting to hide evidence from the police. Her powerful personal mitigation together with the circumstances justified a sentence of less than the five-year statutory minimum, but did not justify a suspended term.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1990

A 15-month disqualification from driving order was appropriate for the offence of dangerous driving, where a motorcyclist had been driving in excess of 137 mph along country roads. The disqualification was reduced from 25 months because the motorcyclist had substantial personal mitigation.

An 18-month detention and training order was reduced to 12 months where a 16-year-old offender had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity to four offences of rape of a child under 13. The offender and the 12-year-old victim had been in a relationship since meeting at school and, although the judge had been right to impose a custodial sentence, sufficient allowance had not been made for the available mitigation and the need to keep custody to a minimum for young offenders.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1579

A juror who had, in contempt of court, searched online for details of the defendant during a criminal trial, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. The sentence was suspended for 12 months because of the juror’s genuine remorse and personal mitigation.

Even where a statutory provision to impose a minimum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment for a third class A drug trafficking offence was triggered, a judge retained a discretion to reduce the sentence by a maximum of 20% for a guilty plea. A sentence of seven years’ imprisonment following guilty pleas to two counts of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply was reduced to five years and seven months’.

There were special circumstances which meant that a sentence of two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, was not unduly lenient following a plea of guilty to an offence of wounding with intent. The offence was completely out of character and the offender’s state of mind had been affected by a combination of anti-depressant medication and alcohol. She was a single mother who had demonstrated considerable remorse and there were concerns about the impact upon her children if she received a sentence of immediate imprisonment.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1119

A total sentence of 28 months’ imprisonment was not manifestly excessive following a plea of guilty to robbery, where an 18-year-old offender had confronted his victims in a passageway at night with a baseball bat. Although the offender had suffered from depression following the death of his mother, the seriousness of the premeditated offence was such that his hardship could not provide substantial mitigation. However, a deprivation order in respect of the offender’s car was not proportionate and was quashed.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1118

A sentence of five years’ imprisonment imposed following a conviction for gross negligence manslaughter, where the victim’s death resulted from consensual sadomasochistic sex, was reduced to three years. Although the principle effected by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.143(1), that crimes which resulted in death should be treated more seriously and dealt with more severely, applied to gross negligence manslaughter, there was a difference in culpability between an offender who intended to cause his victim harm and one who intended no harm.

[2015] EWCA Crim 849

The creation of indecent pseudo images of children, by superimposing photographs of a child’s head onto photographs of naked adults in indecent poses, constituted possession, and not production, of indecent photographs of children within the sentencing guidelines. Production offences did not include those where pseudo images were made using images taken from other sources. A sentence of two years’ imprisonment imposed on an offender of previous good character was reduced to a five-month suspended sentence with a requirement to attend a sexual offences treatment programme.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1694

It was not appropriate to interfere with sentences of three years’ and three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment imposed respectively on two offenders for concealing criminal property where they had concealed the proceeds of fraudulent activity by their family members in their own bank accounts.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1041

A sentence of six-and-a-half-years’ imprisonment for malfeasance in public office and six counts of theft was just about manifestly excessive where a community police officer at Gatwick Airport had used her office to get departing passengers to leave in her care large amounts of money, which she kept. A sentence of five years’ imprisonment was substituted.

[2015] EWCA Crim 411

A sentence of 20 months’ imprisonment for 17 offences of possessing firearms and ammunition was unduly lenient given the aggravating factors of the quantity of items, the fact that some had been modified and that they had not been stored securely. The judge had wrongly considered that the medical condition of the offender’s young baby was an exceptional circumstance justifying less than the minimum five-year term.

A non-custodial sentence was unduly lenient for a young offender of previous good character who had pleaded guilty to sexual offences involving a girl under 13: a custodial sentence of two and a half years was substituted.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2751

Sentences of imprisonment were imposed on two taxi drivers and their passengers who had brought fraudulent personal injury claims based on car accidents which had not taken place. The making of false statements as part of legal proceedings was so serious that only a custodial sentence was justified. Such conduct undermined public confidence in the justice system and imposed great burdens upon insurance companies, who had to devote considerable resources to identifying and resisting fraudulent claims.

[2014] EWHC 4003 (QB)

An appellant had not demonstrated that the imposition of the seven-year minimum term of imprisonment under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.110 for possession of a class A drug with intent to supply was unjust in all the circumstances, despite the sentencing recorder’s decision not to order a pre-sentence report. A pre-sentence report should usually be obtained where the burden was on the defendant to show that the minimum term should not be imposed.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2552

An extended sentence of 13-and-a-half years’ imprisonment imposed on an offender following his guilty pleas to criminal damage, breach of a restraining order, wounding with intent and two offences of possessing offensive weapons, all committed during an attack against his estranged wife, was reduced to one of 11-and-a-half years, where the offender had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of the attack.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2407

An ex-serviceman’s convictions for possession of prohibited firearms with intent to endanger life were upheld, notwithstanding the appellant’s criticism of the judge’s summing up regarding the requisite intention. However, concurrent sentences of 10 years’ imprisonment were reduced to eight years to reflect the additional impact of a sentence of imprisonment on the appellant who was of previous good character, had an exemplary military record and had been diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1994

A sentence of three years’ imprisonment was appropriate where the offender had pleaded guilty to kidnapping his former girlfriend after breaking into her home, pulling her by her hair and dragging her outside at a time when he was prohibited from contacting her and was on bail for previous offending against her.

[2014] EWCA Crim 3023

An offender who had murdered her mother while drunk in the belief that hastening her death was an act of mercy was entitled to a reduction in her minimum term of imprisonment from 12 years to seven years.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2322

A life prisoner, who had made exceptional progress in prison, evidenced by his charity and community work, and by his conduct, succeeded in meeting the high threshold required to obtain a reduction in his minimum term from 15 years to 14 years.

[2014] EWHC 3313 (QB)

A sentencing judge had wrongly disregarded undisputed and tenable bases of plea, and had proceeded as though she had heard evidence at trial or during a Newton hearing to contradict them.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1615

The court had to consider whether sentences imposed on a property developer and his partner, of seven years’ and six years’ imprisonment respectively, following their convictions for conspiracy to defraud leasehold mortgage lenders by using inflated valuations were excessive and had taken personal mitigation into account.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1762

A sentence of four years’ imprisonment imposed on an offender who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter arising from a full-force single punch to a defenceless victim was consistent with the sentencing practice set out in Attorney General’s Reference (Nos 60, 62 and 63 of 2009), Re [2009] EWCA Crim 2693, [2010] 2 Cr. App. R. (S.) 46 and was not unduly lenient.

[2014] EWCA Crim 956

As an act of mercy, an offender’s sentence was reduced by one year to reflect his serious health problems which had become significantly worse during his sentence and which had made his conditions of incarceration much more difficult.

[2014] EWCA Crim 835