Sentencing Guidelines - General Sentencing Issues
Reference by DPP NI under S. 36 Criminal Justice Act 1988 as amended by S. 41(5) Justice (NI) Act 2002 – whether sentence of 5 months’ custody unduly lenient - sexual assault of a child under 13 contrary to Article 14 of the Sexual Offences (NI) Order 2008 – whether failure to impose a SOPO unduly lenient – sentence quashed and SOPO imposed.
Reference by DPP under s. 36 Criminal Justice Act 1988 – whether sentence for attempted murder unduly lenient - appropriate sentencing range for offence of attempted murder - adherence to statutory test in considering imposition of suspended sentences - need for care in assessment of dangerousness - original sentence unduly lenient and substituted – appeal allowed.
Sexual offence prevention orders - applications made to Crown Court in respect of variations, renewals and discharge, and appeals thereafter to the Court of Appeal - demarcation between appeals in respect of SOPOs imposed as part of sentence and appeals in respect of variations, renewals and discharges - need for SOPO's to be carefully formulated
Leave sought to appeal against (conviction and) sentence - indecent assault on female (x8) – rape (x8) – assaults accompanied by threats and violence – offender serving existing sentence for similar offences committed around same time – leave to appeal sentence on the ground of totality granted and appeal allowed – discretionary life tariff of 10 years replaced by one of 6 years
Appeal against sentence - AOABH contrary to s. 47 OAPA 1861 - 4 year sentence (2 in custody and 2 on licence) - whether starting point excessive - whether route to sentence unconventional/at risk of double counting - whether sufficient discount for plea - whether sufficient weight given to indicators of positive change - whether failure to take adequate account of fact that offence could have been prosecuted summarily - Appeal allowed - appellant pregnant - 'significant factors' meant a 2 year probation order would be substituted.
Possession of explosives with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property contrary to s. 3(1)(b) of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 - reiteration of principles governing guilty pleas – need for counsel to correct any misapprehension on court’s part as to timing of guilty plea –recourse to be had to the ‘slip rule’ under s. 49(2) of the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 when appropriate – sentence left undisturbed.
Wounding with intent to commit GBH (ECS 9 plus 3) threats to kill (9 plus 1 concurrent) – both lower harm and lower culpability required for lower starting point in s.18 OAPA 1861 offence – McAuley and Seaward guideline clarified – however sentencing court’s starting point here of 11yrs. was too high in a case of low harm – 9 yr. custodial element reduced to 7 – dangerousness finding approved and 3 yr. extension left undisturbed.
Wounding with intent X2; common assault X2; and false imprisonment – domestic violence – culpability high but degree of harm low – ECS of 6 plus 4 for each wounding – court underlined need to identify domestic setting as aggravating feature – dangerousness considered – delay between conviction and sentence held to be breach of Article 6 but aggravation outweighed this – appeal refused.
Manslaughter on ground of diminished responsibility and 2 X possession of a firearm with intent – planned killing of offender’s father – impaired judgement – assessed as presenting further risk of serious harm – whether life sentence necessary – whether ICS adequately considered – whether 10 yr. tariff appropriate – whether conclusion that responsibility was relatively high correct – fresh medical evidence received on appeal establishing lower culpability – ICS with specified period of 7 years substituted for manslaughter and two with specified period of 4 for firearms convictions.
Sexual Assault by penetration together with Common Assault, Criminal Damage and Possession of Class B Drug – digital penetration and further degradation of victim in her home accompanied by acts of violence and destruction. Total sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment plus 18 months on licence – appeal refused and sentence upheld – recent definitive Guideline from E&W considered – need for victim’s medical reports to be supported by notes and records underlined.
False accounting contrary to s. 17(1)(a) Theft Act (NI) 1969 - false statements contrary to s. 105A(1) of the Social Security Administration (NI) Act 1992 – imposition of confiscation orders – whether court had jurisdiction order under POCA 2002 – whether amounts confiscated proportionate – Held that 2002 Act applied but amounts disproportionate and new amounts substituted.
Fraud by false representation – whether probation element of combination order wrong in principle – probation element quashed and guidance given on proper procedure.
Sexual activity with a child – 3 year determinate sentence comprising 18 months’ imprisonment and 18 on licence – 5 year SOPO – Sentencing Court’s reliance on Sentencing Council Guidelines – guidance from decided authorities in NI more reliable than Council Guidelines - 2 year sentence substituted – 12 & 12 – whether SOPO proportionate – that issue remitted to trial court to reconsider.
Convictions under s. 3(1)(b) of the Explosive Substances Act 1883, and article 58(1) of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 – whether forfeiture order in respect of motorbike lawful – title to the item subject to hire purchase in brother’s name - nemo dat quod non habet – order quashed.
Robbery contrary to s. 8(1) Theft Act (NI) 1969 and AOABH contrary to s 47 of the Offences Against Person Act 1861 – whether finding of dangerousness justified – whether indeterminate custodial sentence justified – appeal allowed solely in respect of indeterminate sentence which is ‘a sentence of last resort’ – extended custodial sentence substituted.
Possession of indecent child images contrary to Article 3 of the Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 – SOPO made under s.104 Sexual Offences Act 2003 – whether SOPO terms oppressive/disproportionate.
Reference under s. 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 – terrorist murder of police officer life imprisonment for adult offender – application of minimum tariff – 25 years not unduly lenient – detention at Her Majesty’s pleasure for youth offender – minimum term of 14 years unduly lenient – limited mitigation for youth in serious violent offence of this nature – tariff of 18 years substituted.
Appeal against sentence – aggravated burglary and criminal damage – use of indeterminate custodial sentence – disposal of last resort – necessity of prior inquiry: can public protection be achieved under extended sentence scheme? – appeal allowed and extended sentence substituted.
Burglary – attempted burglary – obstruction – limited relevance/applicability of Guidelines from Sentencing Guidelines Council in E&W – including cases of sexual offending.
Armed robbery of post office - 4 year's imprisonment deemed manifestly inadequate and increased to 8 years' imprisonment - factors pertinent to an increase in sentence - was the sentence determined on a wrong principle or manifestly inadequate having regard to all circumstances and factors - section 15 Criminal Appeal Act (NI) 1968/section 4 Criminal Appeal Act (NI) 1980 [NB: This case, which is of significance to the Court of Appeal, is not reproduced here.]