Friday, 25 May 2012

Unduly lenient sentences: a useful power; well used

Rt. Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP
The Criminal Justice Act 1988 s.36 - (1) If it appears to the Attorney General - (a) that the sentencing of a person in a proceeding in the Crown Court has been unduly lenient; and (b) that the case is one to which this Part of this Act applies, he may, with the leave of the Court of Appeal, refer the case to them for them to review the sentencing of that person; and on such a reference the Court of Appeal may - (i) quash any sentence passed on him in the proceeding; and (ii) in place of it pass such sentence as they think appropriate for the case and as the court below had power to pass when dealing with him.

This provision was used recently in the appalling case of
R v Roshane Channer and Ruben Monteiro.  On 11th July 2011 they each committed rape of a child under the age of 13 - (Sexual Offences Act 2003 s.5).  At the time of the offences, they were each 20 years old.  Both had criminal records of a serious nature but not involving sexual offending.  Subsequently, they both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 40 months detention in a Young Offender Institution.  On an application by the Attorney-General, their sentences were increased to 7 years each.  (Discount was given for their guilty pleas).

A very good result from a very useful procedure.

At para 37 of its judgment, the Court of Appeal noted that reports had been received from their custodial institutions.  "They are not yet settling and both are presenting disciplinary problems."

They would do well to knuckle down promptly.

Under Sentencing Guidelines (pdf file via here), a starting point of 13 years custody would apply to rape of a child under age 13 where the rape was committed by more than one offender acting together.  The sentencing range applicable is 11 to 17 years.

Telegraph 23rd May

Case report -Reference by the Attorney General under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988: Attorney-General's Reference 011 and 012 of 2012.

Attorney General's Office


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