Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED June 4, 2003

A total sentence of three years for aggravated burglary, making threats to kill and dangerous driving was not manifestly excessive.Appeal against sentence with leave of the single judge. On 25 October 2002, at Lewes Crown Court, the defendant ('C') pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, making threats to kill and dangerous driving. On 1 November 2002 he was sentenced to a total of three years imprisonment. C was married with two adult children but had been having a relationship with the victim ('V') for four years. In May 2002 V ended the relationship causing great distress to C. In August 2002 V was awoken by her doorbell, she opened the door to find C standing there with a long handled knife, and clearly drunk. C pushed past her and threatened to kill her, he pushed her on to the sofa and when she screamed he pressed his fingers onto her throat. V managed to push him off and ran outside where a passing taxi driver took her to hospital. C took V's car and drove off at speed. Police officers gave chase and tried to get C to pull over, on two occasions C made as if to pull over and sped away at the last minute. Other police cars joined the chase and eventually blocked C in. C leant out of the car window and told the police officers to come and talk to him and then rammed his car into the police cars. He was eventually arrested, breathalysed and found to be twice the legal limit. In interview he said he was suffering from depression and memory loss. He accepted V's account of what had happened but said he could not remember it happening. Reports indicated that C had been seeking medical help for depression before the incidents and was taking high doses of anti-depressants. He had consumed a large amount of alcohol and the offences were due to his inability to cope with the circumstances. When sentencing the judge stated that the offences were so serious that an immediate custodial sentence was justified. He gave maximum credit for the guilty pleas and C's good character. C appealed sentence on the grounds that given the exceptional circumstances, three years was manifestly excessive. He had been suffering from depression and had sought medical help. The court was referred to statements from V stating that to some extent she had recovered and had been in contact with C and also from C's wife supporting him.HELD: (1) The sentencing judge had been correct to hold that an immediate custodial sentence was necessary. This was a very serious offence involving the use of a knife. It was clear from V's original witness statement that she was severely traumatised and whilst it could be recognised that she had recovered it was clear that she was still traumatised. (2) It was quite clear from the judge's detailed remarks that he had properly taken into account all the relevant facts and the strong mitigation. The offence of dangerous driving could well have received a consecutive sentence and it could not be said that the total sentence passed was manifestly excessive.Appeal dismissed