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Court of Appeal judgment on mitigating factors in sentencing young people convicted of sexual offences

 R v Aaron Boateng [2019] EWCA Crim 2056

 The Court of Appeal reduced an 18-year old’s sentence for sexual offences on account of his age and lack of maturity.

 Details

 The appellant was 18 when he was convicted of five counts of offences, most of them sexual offences. He was sentenced to a total of three years and four months’ in a young offender institution.

The appellant was 17 at the time the offences were committed. He had no previous convictions. A pre-sentencing report found that his lack of maturity played a large part in his offending. It assessed the appellant as posing a high risk of sexual reoffending, until he developed a full understanding of his actions and greater self-control. He was also found to pose a high risk of serious harm to females to whom he was attracted.

The Court allowed the appeal on the grounds that the trial judge gave insufficient weight to the appellant’s youth in passing the sentence, especially given the role that his immaturity played in the offending. Additionally, the fact that he had never been arrested before was relevant for assessing the impact of being in custody on him. The Court therefore quashed the sentences and substituted a total of 20 months’ in a young offender institution.

 Commentary

The Court reiterated the fact that youth and immaturity have an impact on decision-making and should be taken into account in sentencing, as well as that the overarching aim of is one of rehabilitation. Both of these points should always be emphasised in cases involving children and young people.