Practice and Procedure

R v H (2003)

PUBLISHED August 15, 2003

A total sentence of four and a half years' imprisonment for offences committed in the course of a long period of domestic violence was not manifestly excessive.Appeal against sentence with leave of the single judge. On 17 October 2002 at Exeter Crown Court the appellant ('H') pleaded guilty and was sentenced to: (i) six months' and nine months' imprisonment respectively and concurrent on each of two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm; (ii) three years' and four years' imprisonment respectively and concurrent on each of two counts of making threats to kill; and (iii) six months' imprisonment, to run consecutively to sentences on all other counts, for one count of cruelty to a child. The offences were committed against a background of domestic violence over a period of 12 years and related to incidents when H had: (a) assaulted his wife ('W'); (b) made threats, while holding a poker, to kill W and her two sons with that poker; (c) made threats to kill W and one of her sons while holding a double barrelled shot gun; and (d) thrown a tape at W's other son. During interview following his arrest, H said that he had only assaulted his wife to stop her going on at him, admitted making the threats but said he had not meant them, and denied throwing objects. The basis of H's plea was that he accepted that he had intended those threatened to take the threats seriously, and that he had not pointed the gun at anyone. H argued that the starting point taken by the judge for the sentences for making threats to kill was too high, such that the total sentence was too long and out of line with previous decisions of the Court of Appeal, which indicated a pattern of sentences of less than four years.HELD: (1) The judge was sentencing for offences committed over a long period of time. (2) It was inevitable that the sentence, in its totality, would be substantial for these serious and unpleasant offences.Appeal dismissed.