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Crime

Sentencing – threats to kill

A pleaded guilty to two counts of making a threat to kill and assault occasioning ABH. He had very recently been released from prison on licence when the offences were committed, and he was sentenced to an extended sentence of six years. He also had a lengthy list of 12 convictions for 19 offences.

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Sentencing – burglary

In this case, A appealed his sentence following conviction for burglary. He had pleaded guilty to an offence of criminal damage, and was sentenced to 27 months’ detention in a young offenders’ institution for the burglary, and one month’s detention to be served concurrently for the criminal damage conviction.

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Evidence – hearsay

A message was not hearsay within the meaning of the CJA 2003, and was therefore admissible provided it was relevant and not subject to the discretionary exclusion. In this case, A was convicted of GBH after throwing sulphuric acid at the victim’s face.

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Limitation periods – historic sex abuse cases

Over the last few years, the Court of Appeal has issued repeated warnings about the dangers of poor drafting of indictments in cases of alleged ‘historic sexual abuse’. Two further cases, heard together, further illustrate the problem. Both appellants had been convicted of offences under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 and the ground of appeal for both was that prosecution was time-barred.

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Procedure – SFO interviews

Recent SFO guidance has given rise to a new Law Society practice note, Representing clients at section 2 CJA interviews. The SFO has published revised Operational guidance – presence of interviewee’s legal adviser at a section 2 interview addressed to interviewees and their lawyers.

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Sentencing – speeding

Greater sentencing powers for magistrates are now in force in respect of fines for serious speeding offences. Notably, there is a new higher penalty for excessive speeding above legal speed limits.

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Procedure – death of defendant

 

It is critical to maintain an approach to criminal justice that is consistent and even-handed, maintaining a definitive position that the death of a defendant brings any criminal prosecution of that defendant to an end. So said Sir Brian Leveson P, giving judgment in the Court of Appeal in a case where the defendant died before the jury gave its verdicts.

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Defences – dangerous driving

Is self-defence capable in law of being invoked as a defence to a charge of dangerous driving? In a somewhat unusual case, A was convicted of making off without payment, and one count of dangerous driving. She had taken a cab ride home and told the driver she would go in to collect the fare, and return within two minutes. She failed to do so, but a few minutes later he spotted her, having changed her clothes and getting into another car.

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Procedure – confiscation proceedings

There was no basis on which to grant an extension of time, the Court of Appeal ruled, in a renewed application for an extension of time of nearly eight years to appeal against a confiscation order.

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Offences – conveying prohibited articles into prison

The mens rea required for a conviction of conveying a prohibited article into a prison under the Prison Act 1952 has been clarified. The offence is not one of strict liability, contrary to what some practitioners wrongly believe.

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