R v VT: Children should not be sentenced simply as ‘cut-down’ adults
The Solicitor General appealed against the imposition of a youth rehabilitation order for a 15-year old convicted of wounding with intent. Dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal confirmed that when sentencing children, the court should not approach children as ‘cut-down’ versions of adults and, in the particular circumstances of this serious case, a non-custodial sentence was just within the range of appropriate orders. The case demonstrates the impact that a detailed Pre-Sentence Report can have.
Court of Appeal case: Sentencing may be complex but the core principles of youth justice are not
This case involved 3 Appellants; aged between 17 years and 4 months to 18 years at the time of the offences (a series of aggravated robberies). The Recorder applied a starting point before discount for guilty plea of 12 years for all offences and said that the Sentencing Council's Guideline for Sentencing Children and Young People: Overarching Principles (Overarching Principles) did not apply as all three had turned 18. All three Appellant’s argued this was too long and indicated that a much higher actual starting point had effectively been applied prior to any considerations on the basis of youth, mental disorder, and personal background respectively given that all 3 were of good character. The appeal was allowed and the sentences reduced.
An unsuccessful AG reference demonstrates that departing from sentencing guidelines should be rare
The Court of Appeal refused to refer sentences as unduly lenient of 3 child defendants convicted of manslaughter of a police officer.
The ‘cliff edge’ of turning 18 and disparity of sentences with younger co-defendants
A Court of Appeal case on turning 18 and disparity of sentence with younger co-defendants
Sentencing Guidance: Some clarity on the sequence to be adopted when applying a reduction for a guilty plea and youth when calculating the length of a custodial sentence
The Court of Appeal held that a sentence of three years and ten months for a robbery in which a knife and an imitation firearm were produced was not manifestly excessive. While the appeal was dismissed, it provided the Court of Appeal with the opportunity to clarify the sequence in which the sentencing judge should apply a reduction in sentence to reflect the offender’s youth and immaturity and any guilty plea.
The Sentencing Code 2020: A new era of simpler sentencing procedure
The Sentencing Code comes into force on 1 December 2020. The Code is intended to be a single point of reference for the procedural law considered by courts when sentencing. It is hoped that this will bring clarity to the legislative sentencing framework for children.
Detention and Training Orders – terrorism concerns and delayed release
An application for judicial review was refused on the basis that there was no restriction on the power of the youth court to order a late DTO release. Therefore, the youth court could take into consideration concerns about the increased risk to the public of terrorist activity when considering ordering delayed release.