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Turning 18 between conviction and sentence

R v Dennis Obasi [2014] EWCA Crim 581

The Court of Appeal confirmed that the relevant age for the purpose of sentencing is the age at the date of conviction.1  Where a young person is 17 at the date of conviction and 18 at the time of sentence the ‘relevant age’ for the purpose of sentencing is 17.


In this case the young person was sentenced in respect of two separate sets of offences. He was 17 at the time he was convicted of the first set of offences and 18 at the time he was convicted of the second set of offences. The total sentence was three years and one month’s detention in a young offender institution.

The Court of Appeal found that the judge incorrectly passed a sentence of two years’ detention on the appellant who had been 17 at the date of conviction. This was quashed and replaced with a two year Detention and Training Order.


This case highlights that where a defendant is aged under 18 at the date of conviction the court can only lawfully pass a youth sentence.

Practitioners should also be aware that “….with respect to an offender who has crossed a relevant age threshold between the date of the offence and the date of conviction culpability is generally to be judged by reference to the offender’s age at the time of committing the offence…”[para 6].2

  1. See earlier decisions of R v Ghafoor (Imran Hussain) [2002] EWCA Crim 1857, R v Danga (Harbeer Singh) [1992] QB 1996  (back)
  2. Also see paragraph 5, Overarching Principles – Sentencing Youths, Sentencing Guidelines Council, November 2009  (back)