Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED June 9, 2003

A sentence of 18 months for racially aggravated harassment was manifestly excessive and the interests of justice would be served by a sentence of 12 months' imprisonment.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against a sentence of 18 months for racially aggravated harassment imposed on 3 March 2003 at Stafford Crown Court following a plea of guilty by the defendant ('N'). The victim ('V') was Ed Dougan who was a popular presenter of radio shows on Radio Wolverhampton and regularly wrote for newspapers. Since 1996 N had regularly written abusive and criticising letters to V. From 1999 N sent emails that were racially abusive, one email stated "you are a piss poor interviewer and a dishonest slimy, fat yid". In January 2002 V reported the matter to the police who traced the email and arrested N. N's computer was searched and large amounts of material was discovered relating to V. N admitted sending the emails but thought what he had done was not offensive. When sentencing the judge held that his conduct required a substantial period imprisonment. N appealed sentence on the ground that it was manifestly excessive.HELD: (1) It was the duty of the court to protect all citizens from racial abuse. The maximum sentence for an offence of this type was two years' imprisonment. N deserved credit for his good character and the fact that he had apologised, however, the offence was serious because of the length of time the conduct had continued and its ferocity. (2) The starting point was too high. On the facts the interests of justice could be done by imposing a sentence of 12 months' imprisonment.Appeal allowed.