Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED November 6, 2003

In the unusual circumstances the sentence of three years for conspiracy to steal would be quashed and a sentence of two years substituted as insufficient allowance had been made for an earlier sentence and a favourable response to a supervision report.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against a sentence of three years' imprisonment following a plea of guilty for conspiracy to steal, imposed on 28 February 2003 at Snaresbrook Crown Court. A co-accused was sentenced to four years' imprisonment. The defendant ('D') and his co-accused were involved in stealing cars over a two year period between 1999 and 2001. Cars were stolen in the South East and the identity changed to match cars that actually existed in Europe. The cars were then represented as imports whereby genuine documents could be obtained. A total of 30 cars, predominantly Mercedes', Porsches and BMWs, were stolen valued at between ?320,000 and £935,000. D was arrested on 15 March 2001 after a large amount of fraudulent paper work was found. D was directly linked to 13 cars. When sentencing the judge stated that both had played equal roles and if treated equally both would receive sentences of four years. However, D had previously been sentenced to three years' imprisonment at Reading Crown Court in June 2001 for serious dishonesty involving cars, and the judge at Reading would have given a longer sentence had he known of the facts of the present case. As D had been released and had benefited from the number of rehabilitative elements a distinction could be made. D appealed sentence on the ground it was manifestly excessive. The principle in R v Bennett (1980) 2 Cr App R (S) 96 applied and if the present offences had been dealt with at the same time as the Reading offences the sentence would have been longer but not another three years.HELD: (1) D was sentenced at Reading on three indictments, he did not admit the present conspiracy and ask for it to be taken into account. Whilst the offences were over a similar period the principle in Bennett (supra) was not applicable. At the time of the Reading case no charges had been brought in the present matter. (2) The judge had taken into account the sentence at Reading and the favourable report on D's response to supervision following release on licence. Without detracting from the seriousness of the conspiracy the judge did not make sufficient allowance for the sentence at Reading and the favourable response to supervision. In these unusual circumstances the sentence would be quashed and a sentence of two years substituted.Appeal allowed.