Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED August 19, 2003

Where a BB gun was used on the spur of the moment by an appellant of otherwise good character, a sentence of three-and-a-half years' imprisonment was quashed and substituted with a term of 15 months.Appeal against sentence with leave of the single judge. On 26 November 2002 at Birmingham Crown Court, the appellant pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, and was subsequently sentenced to 42 months' imprisonment. On 14 August 2002, the victim had arrived in her car at traffic lights behind the car of the appellant. When the lights changed, the appellant did not drive away, but instead operated his hazard lights. As the victim pulled out into the opposite carriageway to drive past the appellant's car, she beeped at him and shouted. The appellant produced a BB gun, pointed it at the victim, and fired a plastic pellet at her, which travelled in front of her face. The pre-sentence report had indicated that the appellant was a responsible family man in full-time employment, and recommended a community service order. When sentencing, the judge stated that he was sentencing the appellant on the basis that he had raised, pointed and fired the gun. The appellant argued that given his good character and family responsibilities, he should have received a community service order, or in the alternative, that the sentence was manifestly excessive.HELD: (1) The judge had erred in referring to the nature of the gun. (2) The seriousness of the offence was beyond argument, as was the inevitability of a custodial sentence. (3) With regard to the nature of the imitation firearm, the spur of the moment aspect of its use, and the appellant's otherwise good character, the sentence would be quashed and substituted with a term of 15 months.Appeal allowed.