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Court of Appeal judgment on the passage of time between offence and sentence

R v Hayward & Weaving [2019] 8 WLUK 118

The Court of Appeal considered the relevance of age and the long delay between the commission of the offences and sentencing.

Details

The appellants had committed a common assault and a subsequent ABH on the same victim when they were aged 17 and 18. The offences took place in 2017 but they were not summonsed to court until 2019, by which time the younger of the two had turned 18. The sentencing judge took the sentencing guideline for children and young people in to account and sentenced the younger appellant to 11 months immediate detention and the older one to a similar length of time. They appealed on the grounds that the sentences were manifestly excessive. The Court found that the delay between offence and sentence had been significant and not the appellants’ fault. The appellants had matured significantly during the intervening period and they were both young. The Court held that the 11 month sentences was not manifestly excessive but that the imposition of an immediate custodial sentence was not necessary and it would have been possible for the court to have suspended the sentence. As the appellants had already served most of the sentence by the time the appeal was heard, the court substituted the 11 month sentences for 6 months and the appellants were immediately released from custody.

Commentary

Following arrest the majority of suspects are ‘Released Under Investigation’ and later requisitioned to court. Anecdotal evidence from frontline professionals is that this is leading to long delays in suspects being charged and cases progressed. The impact of this injustice is particularly significant for those who offend as children but turn 18 prior to conviction as they then  lose the protections available to child defendants. The fact that the sentencing judge took the sentencing guideline for children and young people in to account did not go far enough on this occasion. The delay as well as the age and maturity of both the appellants were the factors which led to the sentences being reduced.