News Criminal Defence 22nd Jan 2021

Sophia Dower successfully appeals sentence in Court of Appeal

Sophia represented Mr C before the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) in his appeal against sentence in respect of an 8 year 8 month custodial sentence imposed by the Crown Court for offences of dwelling burglary, criminal damage, and dangerous driving.

In May 2019, having been released from prison for a dwelling burglary the month before, Mr C committed another dwelling burglary during the course of which he stole the victim’s Mercedes vehicle in addition to other expensive items. In September 2019, Mr C broke into another property on the same road and stole goods valued at £3000. His DNA was found on a stone and chisel used to gain entry into the properties. Mr C pleaded guilty to these offences approximately 1 month after the Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing.

Mr C was arrested for the above offences after being apprehended following a high speed car chase with the police which resulted in Mr C crashing into the showroom of Joe Macari Performance Cars at 80mph. The glass frontage of the showroom shattered over 3 Ferrari vehicles, causing approximately £200,000 worth of damage. Mr C was charged with criminal damage, dangerous driving and driving without insurance and a licence. He pleaded guilty to these offences in the Magistrates Court and was committed to the Crown Court for sentence.

In sentencing Mr C, the Crown Court judge said that the mandatory minimum of 3 years imprisonment in respect of the burglary offences was academic because he had x32 previous convictions for dwelling burglaries on his record. For these offences, the Judge took a starting point of 9 years, reduced to 7 years with credit (concurrent). In respect of the criminal damage, the Judge took a starting point of 30 months, reduced to 20 months with credit, and 14 months after credit for the dangerous driving (concurrent, but consecutive to the burglary offences).

On 19 January 2021, Sophia appeared before the Court of Appeal, comprised of Lord Justice Lewis, Mr Justice Davis and His Honour Judge Leonard QC. She submitted that the overall sentence was manifestly excessive because the sentencing judge adopted too high a starting point, failed to have proper regard to the Sentencing Guidelines and attached disproportionate weight to the Appellant’s previous convictions and the fact he was on licence at the time. She argued that the authorities were clear that regardless of aggravating features, the overall sentence should still bear some relationship with the offence for which a person is being sentenced and the sentencing judge in Mr C’s case had lost sight of this principle. The starting points of 9 years and 30 months were disproportionate, and manifestly excessive.

The Court expressed their gratitude to Sophia for her “helpful and succinct” submissions, and went on to substantially reduce the sentence, agreeing with Sophia’s categorisation on the Sentencing Guidelines. The dishonesty offences were reduced from 7 years to 4 years and 9 months, the criminal damage reduced from 20 months to 9 months and the dangerous driving reduced from 14 months to 12 months.  The overall sentence was therefore reduced from 8 years 8 months to 5 years and 9 months imprisonment.

Sophia Dower was instructed by Marie Bourke of Russell-Cooke Solicitors.

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