YOUNG OFFENDERS

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

In refusing conjoined applications for permission to appeal against convictions for murder, the court considered a number of issues including the adequacy of joint enterprise directions in the light of R. v Jogee (Ameen Hassan) [2016] UKSC 8, the procedures for trials of young defendants in the Crown Court, and the compatibility of mandatory sentences of detention at Her Majesty’s pleasure with ECHR art.3 and art.5

[2017] EWCA Crim 1228

The court quashed a sentence of custody for life imposed in 2002 on a young offender for attempted murder. In the light of fresh psychiatric evidence, which confirmed that the offender had been suffering from a psychopathic disorder at the time of the offence, hospital and restriction orders were appropriate.

[2017] EWCA Crim 937

An extended sentence of 19 years, which included a custodial term of 14 years, was appropriate in the case of a 17-year-old youth who had pleaded guilty at a late stage to causing grievous bodily harm with intent and robbery. The defendant had launched unprovoked and very violent attacks on two members of the public.

[2017] EWCA Crim 987

A total sentence of 20 months’ detention was appropriate in the case of an 18-year-old who had pleaded guilty to inciting children to engage in sexual activity, causing a child to watch a sexual act and meeting a child following sexual grooming.

[2017] EWCA Crim 903

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

A sentence of six months’ detention in a young offender institution was quashed and replaced by 12 weeks’ detention, following a guilty plea to conspiracy to damage property, being graffiti damage to trains, rolling stock and train infrastructure. The offender had been aged between 13 and 17 at the time of the offences, showed genuine remorse and had no previous convictions.

[2017] EWCA Crim 676

The process by which the claimant’s age had been determined by a magistrates’ court had been unlawful as no proper inquiry of his age had been conducted under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 s.99.

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 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

An appellant who had been convicted by a youth court of assaulting staff in a children’s home and had appealed by way of case stated had been wrong to do so where she was raising new arguments which had not been considered by the youth court. It had been incumbent on her to advance her full case at trial. Nevertheless the court dismissed her appeal on the facts.

[2017] EWHC 821 (Admin)

A minimum term of 24 years imposed on an 18-year-old following his conviction for a gang-related murder would be reduced to 21 years to ensure that there was no unfair disparity between his sentence and the 17-year terms imposed on his two co-defendants, who were aged 17 and 16 at the time of the offence.

[2017] EWCA Crim 705

Sentences of seven years’ detention were appropriate in the case of two young offenders who had pleaded guilty to wounding with intent and assault occasioning actual bodily harm after launching a sustained and brutal attack on two gay men.

[2017] EWCA Crim 452

A sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment was appropriate following a conviction for manslaughter where an 18-year-old offender had deliberately driven a stolen car at a police officer. The judge had been correct to find that a grave offence of manslaughter had been committed, with a very high degree of culpability. He had not erred in having regard to what the minimum term would have been if the offender had been convicted of murder.

[2017] EWCA Crim 305

The court reiterated the proper approach to sentencing an adult for sexual offences committed as a teenager.

[2017] EWCA Crim 43

The nine-year minimum term of a sentence of life detention was reduced to eight years for a 16-year-old who had committed involuntary manslaughter approaching the highest level for culpability. The 24-year notional determinate term that would have applied to an adult was appropriate but had not been reduced sufficiently to reflect the offender’s age.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1969

The court granted a permanent injunction restraining the press and all other persons from publishing the names or identities of two individuals who, as children, had pleaded guilty to very serious offences committed against two young victims. The case had caused almost unparalleled public outrage directed at the individuals, and the real risk to their ECHR art.2, art.3 and art.8 rights made the interference with the art.10 right to freedom of expression an absolute necessity.

[2016] EWHC 3295 (Ch)

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

Custodial sentences of two years’ detention and 16 months’ detention were merited for two young offenders convicted of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, contrary to the Firearms Act 1968 s.16A. The offences were aggravated by being premeditated, being committed in public; and the fact that the offenders had acted in a group.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2022

Sentences of nine years’ detention imposed following convictions for manslaughter were unduly lenient and replaced with 15-year sentences. The offenders, aged 17 and 18 at the time, had knowingly participated in a plan to assault and injure the victim, knowing that at least one knife would be used; those factors brought the case closer to murder and the offenders had to be sentenced accordingly.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1715

A sentence of six years’ imprisonment was justified in the case of a man who had been convicted of preparation of terrorist acts and of entering into or becoming concerned in a terrorist funding arrangement.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2209

It was in the best interests of a young offender, who was convicted of raping two boys aged six and seven and attempting to rape another, when he himself was 11, for his sentence of a youth rehabilitation order to be increased to three years’ detention to enable him to get the support and guidance he needed.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2115

Sentences of 11 years and three months in detention, following the first offender’s guilty pleas to two charges of rape, and 14 years in detention, following the second offender’s guilty pleas to three charges of rape, were not manifestly excessive where the teenage offenders had carried out serious and violent attacks on two vulnerable victims on two separate occasions.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2117

A sentence of two years’ detention in a young offenders institution, suspended for two years, imposed on a young offender for sexual activity with a child under 13 contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 s.5, was unduly lenient. There were no exceptional circumstances to justify anything other than an immediate custodial sentence.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1847

The court refused permission to appeal against a conviction for murder where the defendant had relied on diminished responsibility. The reverse burden of proof in respect of diminished responsibility in the Homicide Act 1957 s.2(2) did not infringe ECHR art.6.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2043

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

Where a minor was in custody for police questioning, the law in many countries was that police interviews were to take place in the presence of an “appropriate adult”. The police should inform that person that he was not expected to act simply as an observer. The purpose of an “appropriate adult” was to advise the person being questioned, to assess whether the interview was being conducted properly and fairly, and to facilitate communication. In the instant case, a 17-year-old’s confession to murder was rendered unreliable by the fact that informal and unrecorded interviews had taken place whilst the police had been trying to locate an appropriate adult, who had then not been told his full function.

[2016] UKPC 29

An extended sentence imposed on a young offender after his guilty plea to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered was quashed. Although the offender had set fire to a church, endangering children in a neighbouring hall, he did not pose a significant risk of serious personal harm. A sentence of three-and-a-half years’ detention was substituted for the extended sentence.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1513

A sentencing judge had erred in considering that exceptional circumstances existed so as to justify departing from the statutory minimum term of five years’ custody for possession of a disguised firearm. The mere fact that the offender was 18-years-old at the time, or that the weapon was a disguised taser rather than a conventional firearm, were not factors which alone could constitute exceptional circumstances for the purposes of sentencing.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1626

A community order imposed on a young offender who had committed multiple sexual offences against his half sister was unduly lenient. There had been an appalling catalogue of offending against a small child who had been gravely damaged as a result. The offender, despite his youth, his disabilities and his deprived and damaging upbringing knew that what he was doing was wrong. The community order was quashed and a sentence of six years’ detention was imposed.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1663

If an offender had been sentenced for two separate drug trafficking offences at the same time he would have been given concurrent sentences. The effect of the second sentence running from the date of its imposition, after the offender had served seven months of the first sentence, had effectively given him an additional sentence of 14 months’ imprisonment. The injustice was remedied by replacing the second sentence with one of 54 months instead of 67 months.

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 two years’ detention for each of two offences of assault to run consecutively was not manifestly excessive where the offences had involved repeated assaults of the offender’s girlfriend over a significant period of time using weapons. A sentence of two years’ detention on a count of making a threat to kill was reduced to 12 months since the judge had taken too high a starting point and failed to have sufficient regard to the principle of totality.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1262

An offender’s progress in prison completing courses, jobs, charitable work and acting as a buddy did not amount to exceptional and unforeseen progress such as to justify reducing his minimum term.

[2016] EWHC 2008 (Admin)

An offender had reached the level of exceptional and unforeseen progress in prison required to reduce his minimum term following his murder conviction.

[2016] EWHC 2007 (Admin)

Sentences of four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment and 33 months’ detention were appropriate in the case of two young men with poor criminal records who had been convicted of burglary.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1408

A 12-month referral order imposed on a young offender by the youth court following his guilty plea to robbery and threatening another with a knife was quashed as it was so far outside the reasonable range of penalties that it amounted to a manifest error of law. The matter was remitted to the youth court for it to reconsider the sentence.

[2016] EWHC 2047 (QB)

A judge had wrongly categorised a street mugging in the top category for robbery. The mugging had taken place in daylight and the majority of the victim’s lasting medical problems had been pre-existing.

A total sentence of nine and a half years’ detention in a young offender institution for a catalogue of very serious offending committed a few months either side of the offender’s 18th birthday, which included robbery, supplying a class B drug, blackmail, intimidation, and criminal damage, was deserved and was not manifestly excessive. The sentencing judge had had proper regard to the principles applicable to the sentencing of young offenders and had been right to impose a three-year deterrent sentence in respect of the intimidation charge.

[2016] EWCA Crim 813

A sentence of 10 months’ detention in a young offender institution, following a guilty plea to robbery, was reduced to six months where the judge had failed to take account of the age of the offender, who was 17 at the time of the offence and 18 at the time of sentence.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1261

Despite the comments in R. v Venables (Peter Richard) [2014] EWCA Crim 659 about the need for caution when imposing a sentence of detention for public protection on a young offender, the court refused an application by a 27-year-old offender for an extension of time in which to appeal against such a sentence, which had been imposed when he was 17 years old after his guilty plea to arson. On the facts, the sentence had been appropriate, especially as expert psychiatric opinion had been unable to say whether and when his interest in fires could be curtailed by therapeutic work.

[2016] EWCA Crim 923

Whilst there had been a procedural error by a judge in conducting a review of a prisoner’s minimum term for murder by considering a victim personal statement by the victim’s widow, who did not want the statement to be disclosed to the prisoner, the statement was irrelevant to the main issue in the review, which was whether the prisoner had made exceptional progress. Therefore, there was no material unfairness to justify quashing the secretary of state’s decision to accept the judge’s recommendations and refusing to reduce the prisoner’s minimum term.

[2016] EWHC 984 (Admin)

An extended sentence with a custodial element of 18 years imposed on a young offender following his guilty plea to attempted murder was unduly lenient. The condition of seriousness in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 Pt 12 s.225(2)(b) was satisfied where the offender had used extreme violence and had caused the victim to suffer life-changing injuries. A sentence of custody for life, with a minimum term of 10 years and 6 months, was substituted.

[2016] EWCA Crim 749

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 recorder had properly directed the jury that gang-related evidence, admitted under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.98, went to the issue of the intent of a 19-year-old offender charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. A sentence of 11 years’ detention, although severe given the offender’s age, was not manifestly excessive or wrong in principle.

[2016] EWCA Crim 447

A sentence of three-and-a-half years’ detention imposed on a 16-year-old for wounding with intent was unduly lenient and replaced with a sentence of seven years’ detention. The sentencing judge had made too much allowance for the offender’s young age.

[2016] EWCA Crim 600

A two-year suspended sentence which had been imposed on the offender following his conviction for two offences of indecent assault on young boys, committed when he was 11 and 14, was not unduly lenient.

[2016] EWCA Crim 572

A sentence of six months’ imprisonment was appropriate following a guilty plea to perverting the course of justice. A young woman had provided a false statement for her boyfriend who had been arrested for driving offences despite being warned by police of the consequences of doing so. However, she was of previous good character, and the deception had lasted only a short time and had not had any ongoing effect on his eventual prosecution.

[2016] EWCA Crim 291

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.

The custodial period of an extended sentence imposed on a young offender following his conviction for rape should be reduced from seven-and-a-half to five years to take account of, among other things, his age and the possibility that he might be suffering from a personality disorder.

[2016] EWCA Crim 262