GUILTY PLEAS

[2020] EWCA Crim 487
[2020] EWCA Crim 487
CA (Crim Div) (Fulford LJ, Carr J, Goss J)
2 April 2020

A conviction for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, involving two co-conspirators only, was quashed as the trial judge had erred in admitting under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.74(1) evidence of the guilty plea of one co-conspirator in the trial of the other. In a “closed” conspiracy involving only two alleged conspirators, such evidence effectively decided the central issue of whether the defendants had entered into the conspiracy and should have been excluded under s.78 of the Act.

[2019] NICA 66
[2019] NICA 66
CA (NI) (Stephens LJ, Treacy LJ, Keegan J)
25 November 2019

The Court of Appeal (Northern Ireland) considered the appropriate reduction to a sentence when an offender pleaded guilty at arraignment but did not indicate his intention to plead guilty at the outset. In particular, it considered whether the attitude of the offender at interview should be taken into account, and whether the present guidance was consistent with the terms of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 art.33(1). It also considered whether there was an impact on the level of discount if the offender was caught red-handed or if there was no viable defence.

[2019] NICA 64
[2019] NICA 64
CA (NI) (Stephens LJ, Treacy LJ, Keegan J)
22 November 2019

Although a sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment for possession of prohibited weapons and possession of guns and ammunition was unduly lenient, it did not follow that the sentence had to be quashed. A judge erred in reducing the sentence to take into account the guilty plea and then reduce again to take into account the mitigation. However, it was unfair to increase the sentence which would require the offender to return to prison especially as in the instant case the Prosecution sought to advance a new case.

[2019] EWCA Crim 1632
[2019] EWCA Crim 1632
CA (Crim Div) (Green LJ, Phillips J, Judge Molyneux)
4 October 2019

The court considered what would amount to a “sustained incident” to bring an offence within category 2 of harm in the sexual offences definitive guideline. The mere fact that an offender had remained in a position of trust in relation to a complainant and shared a home with her was not sufficient to create the continued linkage needed to make three assaults over the course of two years a single “incident”. Further, in determining whether a child was “particularly vulnerable due to … personal circumstances” so as to come within category 2, it was not sensible to construe the guidelines as though they were a statute. They could not predict every permutation of circumstances that might arise, and a combination of factors might be sufficient to bring a case within that rubric.

[2019] EWCA Crim 1491
[2019] EWCA Crim 1491
CA (Crim Div) (Hickinbottom LJ, Carr J, Andrews J)
14 August 2019

An offender was entitled to receive the full one-third credit in respect of his guilty pleas to three offences of domestic burglary. None of the sentences, after full credit was applied, would be less than 80% of the mandatory minimum term of three years.

[2019] EWHC 2015 (Admin)
[2019] EWHC 2015 (Admin)
DC (Hickinbottom LJ, Butcher J)
25 July 2019

It would be extremely rare for a court considering a guilty plea to find that a case presented by the prosecution as being aggravated by sexual orientation discrimination under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.146, where that was disputed by the defence, did not require a Newton hearing because the existence of that factor would not materially affect the sentence. In any event, such a hearing was likely to be necessary because of the requirement under s.146(3)(b) to state in open court that homophobic circumstances had been present in an offence.

[2019] EWCA Crim 1341
[2019] EWCA Crim 1341
CA (Crim Div) (Gross LJ, McGowan J, Butcher J)
5 July 2019

A sentence of four years and five months’ imprisonment was justified in the case of the appellant, who had pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary, one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one count of assault by beating.

[2019] EWCA Crim 1451
[2019] EWCA Crim 1451
CA (Crim Div) (Gross LJ, McGowan J, Butcher J)
5 July 2019

In sentencing an offender for breach of a restraining order, a judge had been correct to take a starting point of two years, having assessed the offender’s culpability as falling into Category 1A of the definitive guideline. However, she had erred in increasing that term to four years, based on the offender’s previous convictions. If the impact on the victims of the offender’s recent and past conduct was used to put the offending into Category 1A, care had to be taken not to use it again to increase the sentence within the range by too much.

[2019] EWCA Crim 1192
[2019] EWCA Crim 1192
CA (Crim Div) (Hamblen LJ, Lewis J, Judge Picton)
20 June 2019

It was not permissible for a sentencing judge to reflect the aggravating feature of an offender’s absconding by reducing the credit for his guilty plea.

[2019] EWCA Crim 1194
[2019] EWCA Crim 1194
CA (Crim Div) (Spencer J, Judge Picton)
14 June 2019

A sentence of three years and nine months’ imprisonment was appropriate for a repeat offender who had pleaded guilty to a dwelling-house burglary. The sentencing judge had been wrong to treat the offender’s assertion that he needed to look at CCTV footage of the offence before he was prepared to plead guilty as a reason for reducing the credit to be given for the plea.

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