Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED January 20, 2003

A community rehabilitation order was an unduly lenient sentence given the gravity of two offences of robbery committed by the defendant and the gravity of previous offences committed by him.Application by the Attorney General under s.36 Criminal Justice Act 1988 to review as unduly lenient a sentence of a two-year community rehabilitation order and a drug abstinence order following a guilty plea on two counts of robbery imposed by HH Judge Hampton at Nottingham Crown Court. On 28 May 2002 at 7.15am the defendant ('L') stopped a man and told him he was going to rob him. He took his wallet, which contained cash and credit cards. On 7 June 2002 at 5.40am L stopped another victim and asked for a cigarette. They separated and L then approached from behind, put his arm around the victim's neck and choked him. He took his wallet and demanded a gold bracelet. The victim escaped and called the police. L was arrested on 4 July 2002 and questioned in relation to the robberies. He gave a no comment interview and refused an identity parade. L later admitted both the robberies and stated the money was to fund his crack cocaine drug habit. At the sentencing hearing L admitted that he had been committed for sentence for burglary, following a guilty plea, on 8 July 2002 by Nottingham Justices. On 27/28 June 2002 L had burgled a launderette, he was arrested and gave the police a false name. When interviewed he admitted burglary and said he needed the money to fund his crack cocaine addiction. L asked for eleven other offences to be taken into account. Ten offences were committed between 1 and 27 June 2002. The offences included five robberies, three of which were against taxi drivers, and burglaries. L also had significant previous convictions. The Attorney-General identified the following aggravating features: (i) the victims in both indicted offences had been deliberately targeted; (ii) there had been actual violence against the second victim; (iii) the offences had happened in the early hours of the morning when no-one was around; and (iv) the offences were part of a series of offences. The Attorney-General argued that a community sentence was unduly lenient and that insufficient weight had been given to the actual criminality of the offender and the gravity of the offences. A sentence of between five and seven years would have been more appropriate.HELD: (1) A community penalty in relation to this particular defendant for these offences was wholly inappropriate. This court would expect, having regard to the gravity of the present and previous offences that a sentence of between five and seven years would have been imposed. That would be so even following a guilty plea. (2) The history of L since sentence was of some materiality. On 28 August L was arrested and charged with kidnap and robbery. He was remanded in custody awaiting trial. (3) It was in the public interest that those who committed offences to feed a drug habit should be weaned from that habit. However, a community penalty for robbery of this kind, even if the offender at the time of sentencing was a promising candidate for a drug test order, would be wholly inappropriate with regard to the victims and the public. (4) The sentence passed was therefore unduly lenient and, taking into account double jeopardy, was quashed and substituted with a term of four years.Application allowed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 182