Practice and Procedure

ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S REFERENCE (No.121 of 2002) sub nom R v F (2003)

PUBLISHED March 12, 2003

A community punishment and rehabilitation order was unduly lenient for an offence of wounding with intent. In the circumstances a four-year sentence would have been appropriate, however, the court had to take into account the fact that it was sentencing for a second time and had to make a reduction accordingly.Application by the Attorney-General to refer a sentence under s.36 Criminal Justice Act 1988. On 16 August 2002, the defendant ('F'), who was sixteen, pleaded not guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The matter was adjourned for trial and on the day fixed for trial F pleaded guilty. The prosecution offered no evidence against the alleged co-accused ('M'). On 11 October 2002 at Manchester Crown Court Sachs J sentenced F to a community punishment and rehabilitation order of 100 hours with 2 years probation. On 10 June 2002, the victim ('V') was struck several times by F and M. V suffered injuries to his back, left flank and his left upper arm. The injury V received to his arm had to be operated on and in the surgeon's opinion had been caused by a sharp bladed weapon. V was left with permanent scarring and disability and would never recover the full function of his left hand. As a result he had been unable to return to his work as a baggage handler. On 11 June 2002, F surrendered to the police, he claimed the injuries had been caused by a piece of glass that he had picked up from the phone box floor. F claimed that V had threatened him and he had struck out in response. The Attorney-General referred the sentence as unduly lenient given the aggravating factors of: (i) F had used a weapon (ii) there had been a deliberate infliction of three separate wounds, one of which was extremely serious causing permanent disability (iii) V himself felt aggrieved at the length of sentence imposed. The mitigating factors were the fact that F had attended the police station voluntarily, had pleaded guilty to wounding with intent, his young age and that he had no previous convictions.HELD: (1) The sentence passed was unduly lenient. The correct sentence, in the circumstances, should have been four-years detention. However, the court had to have regard to the fact that F was being sentenced for the second time and had already carried out his community service. (2) Therefore, a sentence of 18 months detention and a training order would be substituted for the sentences passed. F would be required to surrender to custody in 7 days.Application allowed.