The importance of considering sentencing guidelines properly has been reiterated by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) today, in an appeal brought by Chris Jeyes and heard by the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, Sir Brian Leveson. Before passing over to Sir John Saunders for judgment to be given, Sir Brian observed, “the Single Judge was impressed with your argument, and so are we.”
The Appellant had pleaded guilty to dwelling house burglary and been committed for sentence. The sentencing judge had categorised the offence as Category 1 on the basis that there was greater harm because the householder whose house had been burgled had returned home while the offender was present.
However, the householder had returned at the same time as the police had arrived, and as a result had never been exposed to any risk or fear. She was angry at what had happened, rather than being distressed.
The Court of Appeal agreed with Mr Jeyes that the offence should have been treated as Category 2, and went on to observe that the guidelines were not to be construed as contracts. Judges had to look at the reasons for the factors rather than just the words.
The sentence imposed was reduced by a third as a result.