Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED December 11, 2003

Following a series of violent offences where the defendant fled to Spain and fought extradition of his own volition, on the facts, the UK courts did not have to take into account the period spent in custody whilst awaiting extradition. The totality of a sentence of 18 years' imprisonment was manifestly excessive and would be reduced to 14 years.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against a total sentence of 18 years' imprisonment for causing GBH with intent, manslaughter, aggravated burglary and three counts of manslaughter. The defendant ('D') was sentenced, following pleas of guilty, on 10 June 2003 at Newcastle Crown Court by Grigson J. D, along with three co-accused, was involved in a series of offences at three separate addresses over a period of 22 hours. One man was left dead and four others were injured. D was trying to find a man who was believed to be stealing drugs from prostitutes, who were given drugs by D and the co-accused. Following the offences D went to Spain and was arrested there on 27 December 2001. D fought extradition on the basis that he faced a life sentence and an indeterminate sentence was incompatible with the Spanish penal code. The Spanish courts rejected that argument and D was extradited on 18 December 2002. When sentencing the judge stated that the offences were as a result of a "turf war" over the supply of drugs and control of prostitutes and any sentence had to be of such a length that it would punish and protect the public. D appealed sentence on the grounds that: (i) account should have been taken of the period spent in custody in Spain. D conceded s.47 Criminal Justice Act 1991 was not drawn to the judges attention but, having regard to the authorities, at least part of that period should be taken into account; and (ii) whilst consecutive sentences might be appropriate in principle the totality of the sentence was manifestly excessive.HELD: (1) D was in Spain seeking to avoid the UK authorities. He was there of his own volition and he fought extradition. On the facts of this case, and having regard to the authorities, it was not appropriate to specify that any period spent in custody in Spain should be reflected by a reduction in the sentence. (2) There was some force in the submission that the total sentence was manifestly excessive. These were appalling offences but having regard to totality, the sentence of 18 years was manifestly excessive and would be reduced to 14 years' imprisonment. In the circumstances it was appropriate to order that the consecutive sentence for wounding with intent run concurrently.Appeal allowed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 3742