London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE GOOSE
HER HONOUR JUDGE TAYTON
(SITTING AS A JUDGE OF THE COURT OF APPEAL CRIMINAL DIVISION)
|R E G I N A|
|ANDREW CHRISTOPHER SAWDON|
Mr F Schofield appeared on behalf of the Crown
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LORD JUSTICE SIMON:
i. The offender presented a 5 to 10 per cent risk of reconviction within 12 to 24 months (low risk).
ii. He presented a medium risk of physical and emotional harm to members of the general public, and
iii. Although the probation officer considered that the likely sentence would be immediate custody, she offered to supervise the offender and proposed activity requirements.
My first, and indeed second, thought about this was that you had to go immediately to prison, in spite of the fact that you have no record to speak of. But I've now watched the CCTV footage and it seems to me that the level of violence was not as high as I had anticipated it would be.
If I were to take the view that this was explained by your mental health at the time, then that affords you some significant mitigation. You've been seen by a psychiatrist. You have no mental illness, although you appear to have certain character traits which are concerning. You appear to hold conspiracy theories and are somewhat paranoid. Those traits are not at the moment seriousness enough to warrant you being regarded as mental disordered. Some of the things your mother has written in her letter suggest to me that you might -- and I say only 'might' because I am by no means a psychiatrist or psychologist -- you might have some illness in the autism spectrum. I know that you've been assessed for dyslexia.
This does not happen very often, I can assure you, Mr Sawdon, but I'm not in fact going to send you to prison today. What I'm going to do is defer sentence — I don't do that very often either — until 6 July. Six months' time, more or less. And what I want you to do in six months' time and every day during the six months, is to keep your employment save up some money, because I don't see why the victims of your offending should suffer, so I expect you to save up money to pay off the money that you were given... You can also pay some compensation for the upset you've caused. And I expect you to have completely given up cannabis by the time I see you again because, whether it's cannabis, whether it is M-CAT, I don't know, but you do have some mental fragility and I can virtually promise you that that is being exacerbated by cannabis. I've seen too many cases now where people have mental illness and have been using cannabis, probably heavier than you're using it but nevertheless, it's in my own mind, certainly, a contributory factor and so you need to give it up.
If there have been no further offences and you've given up the cannabis, because taking cannabis is a criminal offence, and you've saved up some money to pay compensation, and you are in a state to be able to do some unpaid work or some other community requirement which the probation service think is appropriate, then, and only then, I won't lock you up. So you are on trust for six months.
The court is satisfied having regard to the nature of the offence and the character and circumstances of the offender that it would be in the interests of justice to exercise the power.
(1)The Crown Court or a magistrates' court may defer passing sentence on an offender for the purpose of enabling the court, or any other court to which it falls to deal with him, to have regard in dealing with him to-
(a) his conduct after conviction (including, where appropriate, the making by him of reparation for his offence); or
(b) any change in his circumstances; but this is subject to subsections (3) and (4) below
(3) The power conferred by subsection (1) above shall be exercisable only if-
(a) the offender consents;
(b) the offender undertakes to comply with any requirements as to his conduct during the period of the deferment that the court considers it appropriate to impose; and
(c) the court is satisfied, having regard to the nature of the offence and the character and circumstances of the offender, that it would be in the interests of justice to exercise the power.
(4) Any deferment under this section shall be until such date as may be specified by the court, not being more than six months after the date on which the deferment is announced by the court[...]
1.2.6 Under the new framework there is a wider range of sentencing options open to the courts, including the increased availability of suspended sentences, and deferred sentences are likely to be used in very limited circumstances. A deferred sentence enables the court to review the conduct of the defendant before passing sentence, having first prescribed certain requirements. It also provides several opportunities for a defendant to have some influence as to the sentence passed-
(a) it tests the commitment of the offender not to offend;
(b) it gives the offender an opportunity to do something where progress can be shown within a short period;
(c) it provides the offender with an opportunity to behave or refrain from behaving in a particular way that would be relevant to sentence.
1.2.7 Given the new power to require undertakings and the ability to enforce those undertakings before the end of the period of deferral, the decision to defer sentence should be predominantly for a small group of cases at either the custody threshold or the community sentence threshold where the sentencer feels that there would be particular value in giving the offender the opportunities listed because, if the offender complies with the requirements, a different sentence will be justified at the end of the deferment period. This could be a community sentence instead of a custodial sentence or a fine or discharge instead of the community sentence.
Deferral of a case like the present will therefore only be appropriate if a non-custodial sentence was a proper and realistic possibility on the facts of the case.