In all the circumstances a sentence of two and half years in a Young Offender's Institution for robbery was manifestly excessive given the mitigation and the fact that the judge had indicated the offence was suitable for the restorative justice programme.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against a sentence of two and half years in a Young Offender's Institution for robbery imposed on 23 April 2003 at Wood Green Crown Court. The defendant ('B') pleaded guilty on 19 March 2003. The victim ('V') and a friend left a bar, where they had been drinking all evening. On the way out, they saw B who was arguing with the doorman who wouldn't let him in. V brushed past him and B called her an "English bitch". V and her friend got into a cab but B arrived and argued with the driver, he opened the door, punched V in the face and stole her mobile phone valued at ?350. B ran off but the cab driver gave chase, nearby police officers joined the chase and B was found hiding behind bins. When interviewed B said V had pushed him and he had taken offence. He denied hitting her and calling her an English bitch. B had been in the UK since 1999. When the matter was adjourned for sentencing the judge indicated the robbery offence was suitable for the restorative justice programme and he ordered assessment of B for suitability for the programme. B was remanded in prison. The assessment never took place and the sentencing judge ruled that the offence was not a suitable offence. The pre-sentence report stated B showed a lack of sincere remorse and there was a medium risk of him re-offending. B appealed sentence on the ground that the sentence was manifestly excessive given the mitigation. Further, whilst there may have been a question mark over whether the offence was suitable for the programme, B was entitled to rely on his willingness to go on the programme.HELD: (1) It was clear that B had genuinely offered to go on the programme. It was sometimes an easy offer to make because it could be advantageous. However, where, as here, the offer was genuine it could be taken into account in his favour. Further, having regard to the mitigation of B's youth, his good character and the fact that the offence was spontaneous, it was clear the judge's starting point was too high. The offence had serious aspects but there was substantial mitigation. The proper sentence was one of 18 months in a Young Offender's Institution.Appeal allowed.

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