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.
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 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.
In a trial for conspiracy to burgle the house of a firearms licence-holder, the court had been correct to admit evidence of one defendant’s previous convictions as “important explanatory evidence” under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.101(c). The other evidence in the case raised serious questions which required explanation, and the bad character evidence showed that the defendant was a serious criminal who was operating with a gang to commit a series of burglaries in order to acquire the kit necessary to commit robberies.
The court considered the hearsay provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, including those under s.121 concerning multiple hearsay, and R. v Twist (Andrew Terence)  EWCA Crim 1143, when refusing renewed applications for permission to appeal against conviction on the basis of inadmissible hearsay evidence. The trial judge had not erred in deciding that, whether or not there were arguable grounds for excluding the evidence, it was admissible in the interests of justice.