Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED June 9, 2003

A total sentence of 15 years in a Young Offender's Institution was manifestly excessive for two counts of grievous bodily harm and a sentence of 10 years would be substituted.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against sentence of 15 years in a Young Offender's Institution for two counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent imposed on 31 December 2002 at Worcester Crown Court following a plea of guilty by the defendant ('H'). A sentence of four years was imposed on the first count with 11 years on the second count to run consecutively. In February 2002 H attacked a shop keeper who went outside his shop for a cigarette. H fought with the shop keeper and bit his ear severing it. On 19 February 2002 a victim ('V') was travelling home on a bus following a night out drinking. H and a friend were also on the bus causing problems. V and other passengers remonstrated with H and his friend and told them to stop their aggressive behaviour. The bus stopped and H's friend launched an attack on V. H joined in, produced a knife and stabbed V 12 times in the back and side. He got off the bus and ran off. The bus driver drove V straight to hospital and it was only as a result of the quick action of the driver that V's life was saved. H was arrested on 23 February 2002 and in interview he admitted fighting and biting the ear. He could give no explanation why except that he had been drinking all day and had gone to his friend's assistance. H carried the knife for his protection and when he got off the bus he threw it into a pond. When sentencing the judge commented that H had very serious problems controlling his anger. H appealed sentence on the ground that it was manifestly excessive given the mitigating factors of the early guilty plea and the fact that this was his first custodial sentence.HELD: (1) These were vicious attacks with no provocation on two entirely innocent men. The way the attacks were committed showed that H was not reluctant to use severe violence and a knife. It was solely because of the bus driver that V did not die. (2) There were some mitigating factors, such as the plea of guilty and the fact that H had been a drug user and had recently been certified as drug free. The judge was faced with a difficult sentencing problem but in all the circumstances the total sentence was manifestly excessive and the starting point had been too high. The sentence of 15 years would be quashed with ten years in Young Offender's Institution substituted made up of three years on count one and seven years on count two to run consecutively.Appeal allowed.