Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 1, 2003

A sentence of 18 months for indecent assault on a female was reduced to 12 months, because the defendant was suffering from depression at the time of the offence which could have had a bearing on her conduct.Appeal with leave of the single judge against a sentence of 18 months imprisonment for indecent assault on a female. On 14 April 2003 at Chichester Crown Court the defendant ('C') pleaded guilty and was sentenced on 16 June 2003 by Mr Recorder Tain. On 1 July 2002 the victim ('V'), a girl aged 14 years, told a police officer that she had been forced to make pornographic films for a man she had met over the internet. V was interviewed and told the police that she and her mother had arranged to meet C at a hotel, paid for by C. Whilst there, C and V undressed, kissed and touched. C was arrested and made full and frank admissions. She told police she had been promised money by the man C met over the internet if she co-operated. She knew V was 14 and she knowingly photographed the sexual activity to make money from large scale distribution of the photographs. When sentencing, the judge commented that C was a mother and she had failed to protect a child. It was inevitable that an immediate custodial sentence would be imposed as children were entitled to be protected from abuse. C appealed against sentence on the grounds that it was manifestly excessive.HELD: (1) The aggravating features of the present case were the fact that C committed the offence for money and photographs were taken with the intention that they be widely distributed. The sentence passed was unexceptional save for one factor. Cases where an adult has sex with a minor in return for reward and to distribute photographs were bound to meet a custodial sentence. It would require extraordinary circumstances for there to be any other course. (2) The sentence would be reduced to 12 months given C's medical condition at the time of the offence. C was severely depressed and had been prescribed strong medication and the court accepted that may have had a bearing on her conduct. That was the only reason to reduce an otherwise perfectly proper sentence.Appeal allowed.