A total sentence of 21 months' imprisonment for theft by a council employee of cash from council car park ticket machines was manifestly excessive. Although the offences were a breach of trust owed to the council and the public, it was not the highest level of trust and the offences were committed over a short period. A sentence of 12 months was appropriate.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against a sentence of 21 months' imprisonment for theft and attempted theft imposed on 18 July 2003 at Liverpool Crown Court. The defendant ('D') pleaded guilty on 5 July 2003 to 11 counts of theft and four counts of attempted theft. D was employed by Liverpool City Council ('the council') as the engineer responsible for ticket machines in car parks. D fixed the machines to block money from dropping into the lower part of the machine, to which he did not have access. He returned later in the day and collected the cash. The council became concerned about the loss of revenue, ascertained which machines had been tampered with and mounted a surveillance operation on them. D was observed taking money from the machines and was stopped. A significant amount of cash was found in his car and at his home. D admitted taking the money. When sentencing, the judge commented that the offences involved a significant breach of trust owed to both the council and the public and the sentence had to be a deterrent. He did not accept that the guidelines in R v Barrick (1985) CAR 142 and R v Clark (1998) 2 CAR 137 were fully applicable. D appealed sentence on the ground that those guidelines were applicable. Given D's guilty pleas, a sentence of 21 months implied a starting point of 28 months.HELD: In the circumstances the guidelines were applicable as one of the guidelines was the impact of offences on the public. There was a serious breach of trust on the employer and the public which warranted a significant deterrent sentence. However, this was not the highest level of trust and the offences were committed over a short period. In the circumstances the sentence of 21 months was too high and would be quashed. A sentence of 12 months would be substituted.Appeal allowed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 3323

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