Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED January 15, 2003

A sentence of life imprisonment could not be imposed as the defendant was not convicted of a very serious offence. A sentence of three years should be substituted in respect of his conviction for causing a public nuisance.Appeal by the defendant ('H') against a sentence of life imprisonment imposed on 24 May 2002 at Peterborough Crown Court by HH Judge Coleman following H's conviction for causing a public nuisance. A tariff of five years was set. On 22 September 2001 H had followed three separate groups of children and teenagers, waving, smiling, staring and hooting his car horn at them. Later on the same day he was arrested and at interview denied following the children. The judge took into account the fact that H had previous convictions for similar offences and a medical report that concluded that there was a substantive and significant risk of his behaviour escalating with the possibility of luring children into his car. H appealed on the ground that the judge did not have the power to impose a life sentence as the offence was not of a sexual or violent nature.HELD: (1) To impose a life sentence an offender had to have been convicted of a very serious offence, per Bingham LCJ in Attorney General's Reference (No.32 of 1996) sub nom R v Whittaker (1997) 1 CAR(S) 261. The conviction in the present case did not match that requirement and a life sentence was therefore inappropriate. (2) A sentence of three years' imprisonment should be substituted and a confiscation order made in respect of the car used by H at the time of the offences.Appeal allowed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 112