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Crime

Offences – sexual offences

Fresh evidence was insufficient to show a conviction was unsafe. A was convicted on four counts under s1(1) Sexual Offences Act and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was also convicted of assault by penetration under s2 of the Act but no separate penalty was imposed.

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Sentencing – children and YP

Definitive guidelines (revised) on sentencing children and young people, and reduction in sentence for a guilty plea, are now in effect as of 1 June 2017. The sentencing guidelines set out the overarching principles, as well as specific guidelines in relation to sexual offences and robbery.

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Sentencing – health and safety

The Court of Appeal allowed a large company’s appeal against sentence for two health and safety offences. At issue was the appropriate level of fine for a very large business organisation (Tata Steel) for two health and safety offences which resulted in serious and long-lasting injuries to two of its employees.

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Confiscation order – private prosecution

A private prosecutor was not in a position of irremediable conflict, and the certification in this case under ss71 and 72 CJJ 1988 to secure benefit for himself by way of compensation was valid. The Court of Appeal has upheld the largest confiscation order ever secured in proceedings brought by a private prosecutor.

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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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