Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED January 16, 2003

A sentence of eight years was not manifestly excessive for robbery and firearm offences.Appeal against sentence with leave of the single judge. On 15 February 2002 at Birmingham Crown Court before HH Judge Wakerley QC the defendant ('C') pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and two of possessing a firearm at the time of committing an offence specified in sch.1 Firearms Act 1968. On 30 April 2002 C pleaded guilty to burglary. C was also in breach of an early release licence from a total of three years' detention at a young offender's institution imposed in September 1999 for robbery, burglary and theft. On 6 December 2001 two undercover police officers had gone to the Kings Norton area of Birmingham looking to buy drugs. They met C and he took ?20 from them and disappeared. Later the police officers saw C and approached him. C took them round the back of a building and produced an imitation firearm and robbed both of the them stealing a mobile phone and cash. He was arrested and denied the offence saying he was with his family at the time. The burglary was committed on 20 August 2001 at a private house with the residents in occupation with a total of £12,000 of electrical equipment and a car stolen. The judge sentenced C as follows: (i) six years consecutive for robbery; (ii) two years consecutive for possession of firearm at time of committing offence; (iii) six years concurrent for robbery; (iv) two years concurrent for possession of firearm at time of committing offence; and (v) three years concurrent for burglary. He was also ordered to serve the balance of 270 days for the breach of the early release licence. The total sentence was eight years 270 days. When sentencing the judge drew attention to the aggravating features of street robbery, firearms and the drug scene which were particular to the area of Birmingham. C appealed on the grounds that the sentence was manifestly excessive as: (a) the sentence for the primary offence was elevated due to the use of a firearm; and (b) the sentence for the secondary offence was then made to run consecutively which effectively punished him twice for the use of the imitation firearm.HELD: (1) The sentence was severe but not inappropriately so. The sentence for the robberies contained an element to reflect the use of a firearm. Those using guns must know that they face an increase in sentence. The sentence was clear and transparent so as to act as a deterrent to others. (2) C had a large number of previous convictions for dishonesty and had committed the present offence whilst on early release licence.Appeal dismissed.