Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2005] All ER (D) 214 (Nov)
Court: Court of Appeal, Criminal Division

Rose LJ, Simon and Dobbs JJ

Representation Patrick Moran (instructed by Rogers Solicitors) for the offender.
  Lord Goldsmith QC, AG, and Mark Heywood (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the Attorney General.
Judgment Dates: 16 November 2005


Sentence - Suspended sentence - Suspended sentence only to be imposed in 'exceptional circumstances' - Wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm - Whether suspended sentence unduly lenient - Proper approach by judges to indications as to sentence - Statutory duty to follow sentencing guidelines - , s 172.

The Case

The court upheld a reference by the Attorney General in relation to a suspended sentence of two years' imprisonment where the offender had pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, stating that the appropriate sentence at first instance was at least four years' imprisonment. The court commented that the court's decision in Goodyear , was not to be misunderstood: (a) the purpose of the decision was not to encourage a return to the practice, disapproved by R v Turner , of counsel seeing the judge about sentence privately in his room. A hearing involving an indication of sentence should normally occur in open court (one of the exceptions was where a defendant was unaware that he was terminally ill); (b) the principal feature of an appropriate indication of sentence was that an advance indication was sought by the defence, and not promulgated by the judge; (c) If an indication in such a context was to be made, it was not appropriate for an indication to be given, with reference to the trial resulting in the much longer sentence compared to the one he offered were the defendant to plead guilty. Whatever personal views a judge had, it was not for him to disregard the Court of Appeal's judgments or guidance of the Sentencing Guidelines Council. On the contrary, there was a statutory duty (pursuant to s172 of the ) for the court to have regard to the Sentencing Guidelines Council's guidance.

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