Benjamin Aina QC and Maria Karaiskos Appear In The Court Of Appeal In A Case Involving the Appropriate Discount When Sentencing A Youth Who Turned 18 At The Time Of Trial

The appellant was convicted of manslaughter and acquitted of murder, he appealed against the sentence of 9 years detention in a YOI.

Some time after an argument about whose turn it was to play pool the appellant picked up a chair and either threw or pushed it at the deceased twice in quick succession. He then stamped on his genital area and his throat before running off. The chair leg had penetrated the deceased’s eyeball by three inches, and he died the following day. The appellant handed himself in to the police when he heard about his death and admitted hitting him in the eye with a chair. In interview he claimed self-defence, which was subsequently rejected by the jury.

He was 17 years and 7 months at the time of the offence. The sentencing judge said that but for his age the sentence would have been 12 years, reduced to 9 years to account for it.

The defence argued that the judge had not given adequate weight to the overreaching principles as set out in the guideline for children and young people. The appellant was 18 when he was sentenced but it was submitted that age, maturity and progress of the young offender should be considered even when technically an adult, with which the Court of Appeal agreed. The guideline refers to a reduction of one half to two thirds of the adult sentence, in giving a reduction of 25% it was argued the judge failed to take account of the immaturity and the impact of this on decision making and lack of insight into offending.

Held: the reduction is a rough guide and must not be applied mechanistically, the suggestion that the appellant was “entitled” to a discount of one half to two thirds is misconceived. The sentence was not wrong in principle simply because the judge did not explain why he gave a lesser discount. It is a matter for the sentencing judge as to what, if any, discount is given to a young offender in a particular case. The judge concluded that the nature of the offending and the high culpability of the appellant despite his youth only justified a reduction of 25% from the adult sentence he would have passed. That approach cannot be criticised.

The appeal was dismissed.

If you wish to instruct Benjamin Aina QC or Maria Karaiskos please contact the Clerks Room, their full profiles may be viewed through the following links: Benjamin Aina QCMaria Karaiskos

 

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