R v Koffi  EWCA Crim 300
The Court of Appeal remarks that remitting a case involving conduct which contributed to a serious fraud to the Youth Court was a sensible course, but refused the appeal on the basis that the sentence was not wrong in principal or manifestly excessive.
The appellant was 15 when she allowed her bank account to be used to transfer stolen money. In interview, she denied knowledge that the funds and activity were fraudulent. The appellant’s co-accused, a man in his twenties, opted for trial and both were sent to the Crown Court. At the PTPH, the appellant pleaded guilty and sentencing was adjourned until the conclusion of her co-accused’s trial. Significant delays meant that the appellant was sentenced more than two years after the offence. The sentencing Judge imposed a 12-month Youth Rehabilitation Order with a 60 hours unpaid work requirement. It is noted that the sentencing judge was invited to remit the case to the Youth Court but refused. It is also noted that a conditional discharge was not sought.
The Court of Appeal held that although the most sensible option would have been to remit the appellant’s case to the Youth Court, the sentence imposed was not wrong in principle or manifestly excessive. As a court or review, the Court of Appeal cannot adjust a sentence passed in a legitimate way by a lower court to alter a notional rehabilitation period (e.g. by ordering the appellant be conditionally discharged). The court dismissed there were useful similarities between Dillon  EWCA Crim 2671 and the appellant’s case.
The Court of Appeal acknowledged that despite the appellant’s conduct forming part of a significant fraud, a sensible course would have been to remit the case to the Youth Court, which has appropriate sentencing powers. This case therefore underlines the importance of children being sentenced in the appropriate court. This case also emphasises the importance of practitioners laying before the court all preferable sentencing options, including remittals to Youth Court and conditional discharges as early as possible. As this case demonstrates, it may not be possible to substitute a less severe sentence by way of appeal.