Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED April 9, 2003

A sentence of 18 months' imprisonment for making indecent photographs of children was manifestly excessive as the judge had not given sufficient credit for the appellant's guilty plea and wrongly assessed into which category of seriousness the photographs fell.Appeal against sentence with leave of the single judge. On 10 January 2003 at Birmingham Crown Court before HH Judge Marshall the defendant ('R') pleaded guilty to 21 counts of making indecent photographs or pseudo photographs of children. R asked for 20 similar offences to be taken into consideration. He was sentenced to a total of 18 months' imprisonment. On 2 September 2002 police officers, acting on information, went to R's home to execute a search warrant. R's computer, floppy discs and compact discs were seized and R was arrested. On examination, 400 indecent images of children and 20 indecent moving images of children were found. The material was viewed by the sentencing judge who, following the decision in R v Oliver & Ors (2002) EWCA Crim 2766, categorised what levels of seriousness the indecent photos fell into. He held that three of the photographs fell within level five as they were of a sadistic nature and the majority of the rest fell within level three or four. He stated that offences of this particular nature depended on degradation and abuse of children and would affect the children for the rest of their lives. R appealed against sentence on the grounds that: (i) the judge failed to give sufficient credit for the guilty plea; and (ii) the sentences received for each offence were inconsistent with guidelines in R v Oliver (supra).HELD: (1) The sentencing judge's assessment that some of the material fell into level five was wrong. The material represented a moderate quantity of level four material. (2) It was because of people like R that a market for this type of material existed. However, having looked at the material and related it to the guidelines in R v Oliver and the fact that it was clear the judge had not given sufficient credit for the guilty plea the sentence would be reduced to 12 months' imprisonment.Appeal allowed to the extent indicated.