Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Crown Court at Carlisle ~ Sentencing - R v Ahmed ... R v Johns

Two sentencing cases at the Crown Court in Carlisle are of interest.  Both cases offer excellent examples of good sentencing practice and demonstrate the value of sentencing remarks which assist public understanding of the workings of the law.

On 4th August, this blog looked at the sentencing of Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed for the murder of their daughter Shafilea Ahmed - (Law and Lawyers 4th August).   They were sentenced to life imprisonment with the trial judge - Roderick Evans J - stipulating a minimum custodial term of 25 years (less 66 days on remand). 

On Friday 16th November, at the Crown Court sitting in Carlisle, Irwin J sentenced Alesha Ahmed for robbery at her parent's home in 2003.  It was, in Irwin J's words, a violent and terrifying robbery.  Alesha had actively helped the men who came to the house armed though it was accepted that Alesha did not know they would come armed.  Alesha had used text messages to communicate with the robbers and was present during the robbery.  She pleaded guilty.

This was a case with truly exceptional circumstances which are described eloquently in Irwin J's excellent sentencing remarks - (Judiciary website - Sentencing remarks of Irwin J).  The learned judge was able to exercise mercy and sentenced Alesha to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years with conditions of supervision and mental health treatment.

The second case is R v Ronald Charles Johns who had been Vicar of Borrowdale and a Canon at Carlisle Cathedral.  He is now 75 year of age.   (Judiciary website - Sentencing remarks of Singh J).   In the period 1983 to 1991 he committed some 10 sexual offences involving 3 victims referred to by Singh J as A, B and C.  The offences were under the law applicable at the time - Sexual Offences Act 1956.  Johns pleaded guilty and had no previous convictions.

There were some testimonials on Johns' behalf which spoke of the distinguished service he had given to the Church and the help given to other people.  There was also a statement from the Archdeacon of West Cumberland to the effect that Johns' offending had harmed the standing and credibility of the church.    This case contained a number of aggravating features including abuse of trust and offending over a lengthy period.  However, Johns had no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to all matters.   Bearing in mind the totality principle (see Totality and TICs here), Singh J sentenced Johns to a total of 4 years imprisonment and imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.   Johns will be the subject of disqualification by the Independent Safeguarding Authority and will be subject to the notification requirements which apply to a person who is on the sex offenders’ register for the period which is laid down by law.

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