Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 29, 2003

A total sentence of ten years' imprisonment for two counts of attempted murder was unduly lenient and a sentence of 18 years' imprisonment would be substituted, the courts had to send out the message that gun crime would not be tolerated.Application by the Attorney-General to refer, under s.36 Criminal Justice Act 1988, a total sentence of ten years' imprisonment following conviction for two counts of attempted murder. The defendant ('B') was convicted at Manchester Crown Court on 5 February 2002 before Field J and sentenced on 15 February 2002. In daylight, in a public place B fired a shotgun at two separate victims with the intention of killing them. One victim sustained chest injuries and the other an arm injury. The Attorney-General referred the sentence as unduly lenient and contended that R v Smith (2001) Cr App R S 212 held that a sentence for attempted murder, where there was an element of revenge or contract killing, was between 14 to 20 years' imprisonment. The present case should have been at the top end of that bracket, 20 years was appropriate given the fact there were two victims. Whilst fortunately the injuries sustained were not severe, that should not be a determining feature when sentencing for attempted murder, see R v Powell (1998) 1 Cr App R S 84.HELD: (1) There was no doubt that the sentence passed was unduly lenient and a sentence at the top end of the range was justified, namely 20 years' imprisonment. That was so, not simply because of the features relevant to all attempted murders, but also to send out the message by the courts that the use of guns in a civilised society would not be tolerated. The City of Manchester was notorious for gun crimes and provided a further justification for saying that the sentence was wholly inappropriate. (2) Taking into account the principle of double jeopardy the sentence would be increased from ten years to 18 years imprisonment.Leave to refer granted, application allowed.