Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 9, 2003

The sentences of the two male appellants, aged 16 and 17 years, for aggravated burglary would be reduced from six to five years' imprisonment and the female offender's sentence for the same offence would be reduced from six to five years.Appeal against three sentences for aggravated burglary. The first appellant ('F') had received a sentence of six years' imprisonment, the second appellant ('C') who was 17 years old at the time of the offence received a sentence of six years' detention and the third appellant ('S') who was 16 years old at the time of the offence received a six year sentence in a young offender institution. F asked for one offence of burglary of an elderly person's dwelling house to be taken into consideration. C asked for nine offences of burglary of dwelling houses to be taken into consideration and the judge had to deal also with a breach of a community order. S asked for two offences at the homes of elderly people to be taken into consideration and one offence of theft. S was also sentenced to three months' detention for possession of heroin and twelve months' detention for an offence of theft to run concurrent. All three appellants were heroin addicts at the time of the offences. F and C had previous convictions for similar offences. The sentencing judge sentenced on the basis that the burglary was particularly serious: (i) the victim had been a 76 year old man living alone without the ability to defend himself; (ii) the appellants had stolen ?55 of his pension money which was his sole source of income; (iii) the appellants had locked the victim in the house and had taken his key; (iv) people of the victims age hardly ever recovered from such a trauma; and (v) any court would punish severely those who committed offences of this kind.HELD: (1) The court agreed with the remarks of the sentencing judge. The three young people were pitiless. Preying on old people to fund a heroin addiction was despicable and cruel. It was all too prevalent and the courts could do nothing more than impose substantial sentences in an attempt to deter others from behaving in that way. All three appellants, whatever expression of remorse they had made pending the hearing of the appeal, had to face up to the fact of what they had done and the misery they had caused. Considering the other offences that had been taken into account all three appellants had been willing and able to prey on the vulnerable when the occasion suited them. (2) Although these were despicable and grave offences for young men of 16 and 17 years of age convicted on pleas of guilty, six years' detention was too long. It would mean that the starting point would be nine years' detention which was too high. To maintain the sentences in line with other sentences of the court the appropriate level of sentence for C and S was five years' detention in a young offender institution. (3) F was a very different person who was now a mother and trying to live a responsible life away from the chaos of drugs. Although her background of offending had justified a sentence of six years' imprisonment, in the interests of fairness she would receive the same treatment as the two young men. A sentence of five years' imprisonment would be substituted.Appeals allowed in part.

[2003] EWCA Crim 2626