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Court of Appeal ruling on RLAA counting towards sentence

R v A [2019] EWCA Crim 106

The Court of Appeal found that credit for time spent on Remand to Local Authority Accommodation (RLAA) and time spent on a qualifying curfew as part of RLAA can only be given by the sentencing judge deducting it from the sentence.

Details

The appellant was convicted of manslaughter. He spent 8 days remanded in custody and a further 192 days on RLAA during which time he was subject to a electronically monitored curfew from 19.00 – 07.00. He was sentenced to 5 years detention under Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, s.91. Both sides erroneously informed the sentencing judge that the appellant had been on remand for a period of 198 days and that those days would automatically be deducted by the authorities in calculating the date of the appellant’s release.

The Court held that they did not regard the statutory framework as preventing a judge from giving credit for time spent on RLAA when calculating the length of the sentence to be imposed.  The case of R v D & H1 illustrated that the requisite proportion of such time ought to be credited when the offender has been subject to a qualifying curfew. The Court held that

‘[T]here may be cases in which the interests of justice require that the length of the remand combined with the restrictive nature of the conditions ought to be reflected (beyond any credit for qualifying curfew) in the calculation of sentence – albeit that, as this case perhaps illustrates, such occasions are likely to be rare. In any event the amount, if any, of such credit will all depend on the facts of the particular case, and the judge’s assessment of what the interests of justice require. It will not be a purely mathematical exercise’ (paragraph 50).

The court concluded that credit for 96 days (half the time spent on a qualifying curfew in accordance with R v D & H) should have been given. In addition, the court held there is no power to order the authorities to give credit for time spent on RLAA or for time spent on the equivalent of a qualifying curfew whilst on RLLA. The only way that such credit can be awarded is for it to be included in the calculation of sentence length, with the sentence imposed being net of the credit given.

Commentary

Clarification of the law in this area is welcomed but this case highlights the need for legal representatives to provide accurate information as well as give assistance to the court on their sentencing powers. In this case, the error arose because the original sentencing judge had not been provided with sufficient or accurate information, such failures lead to unjust outcomes for children.

  1. R v D & H [2016] EWCA Crim 1807  (back)