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A case on Referral Orders in the Crown Court

Regina v Reyon Menelek Dillon [2017] EWCA Crim 2642

The Court of Appeal judgment supports remittal to the youth court for sentence when adult co-defendants cause delay and, additionally, when the compulsory referral order conditions are met.

Details

The appellant was 16 years old when he allowed his bank account to be used to hold stolen funds.  He had older co-defendants who faced additional charges.  He pleaded guilty to arranging to receive and converting criminal property in the crown court aged 17.  Despite the fact that the pre-sentence report recommended a referral order and that the compulsory referral order conditions would have been satisfied in the youth court,  he was sentenced to a Youth Rehabilitation Order in the Crown Court.  Delays meant that the appellant was not sentenced until he was 18.

The Court of Appeal held that where children plead guilty to offences in the crown court because they are jointly charged with adults, and there will be further delay because some co-defendats have pleaded not guilty, it will usually be appropriate to remit any child defendants for sentence to avoid any further delay.  Also, where the compulsory referral order conditions are met but do not apply in the Crown Court and a referral order may be the most appropriate sentence, the Crown Court should remit to the youth court.

Commentary

The Court of Appeal acknowledged that the crown court judge could have sat as a district judge under section 66 Courts Act 2003 and made a referral order, however, the more significant point was that the case should have been remitted to the youth court.  Much of the published case analysis about this case says that the youth court has exclusive jurisdiction to make referral orders, and a judge in the crown court could not acquire jurisdiction to make a referral order by exercising the general jurisdiction of a district judge under the Courts Act 2003 s.66.  Our analysis is that is not the position.  The case is a good example of the real problems which can be caused for children when cases are not remitted for sentence when they should be.