Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED November 5, 2003

Having regard to the principle of totality, three years and six months' imprisonment for offences of attempted robbery, robbery and theft and for breach of a community service order was inadequate having regard to the aggravating features of the offences. A sentence of five years' imprisonment would be substituted.Application by the Attorney-General under s.36 Criminal Justice Act 1988 to refer a sentence thought to be unduly lenient. The offender ('L') was 21 years old at the time of the offences. L, assisted by others, had embarked on a two-day intense crime spree. Eight separate offences had been committed in quick succession. They had involved theft of two motor vehicles which were in turn used to facilitate the commission of thefts and robberies at small unprotected retail premises and on vulnerable members of the public. L was charged on six counts of theft, two counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery. On 15 July 2003 L pleaded guilty to all counts (except one on which no evidence had been offered) and also pleaded guilty to breaching the requirements of a community rehabilitation order ('CRO') imposed on 20 December 2002 in respect of two offences of theft and having an offensive weapon. L's total sentence was three years and six months' imprisonment. The Attorney-General submitted that having regard to the principle of totality and the following aggravating factors the total sentence was inadequate. The aggravating factors were: (i) the offences had formed part of a concerted course of criminality; (ii) motor vehicles were stolen to facilitate the commission of the robberies indicating a degree of premeditation and planning; (iii) L had specifically targeted vulnerable premises and vulnerable victims; (iv) the execution of the attempted robbery, while not involving the use of a weapon, showed a total disregard for the safety of the victim who could have been killed or sustained serious injury; (v) the offences were committed during the currency of an 18-month CRO with conditions imposed only three months earlier; and (vi) L had a bad record for offences of this nature and had served a number of short custodial sentences since he was 16 years old.HELD: L had been substantially under-sentenced. Bearing in mind the principle of totality and the breach of the CRO an appropriate total sentence upon a plea of guilty was one of six years' imprisonment. Bearing in mind the element of double jeopardy it was appropriate to substitute a sentence of five years' imprisonment.Judgment accordingly.

[2003] EWCA Crim 3011