QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE NEWMAN
|MARC STUART HOLME||(CLAIMANT)|
|LIVERPOOL CITY JUSTICES||(DEFENDANT)|
|THE CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE||(INTERESTED PARTY)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
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THE DEFENDANT DID NOT ATTEND AND WAS NOT REPRESENTED
MR S KNAPP (instructed by THE CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE LIVERPOOL) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
"A magistrates' court may vary or rescind a sentence or other order imposed or made by it when dealing with an offender if it appears to the court to be in the interests of justice to do so; and it is hereby declared that this power extends to replacing a sentence or order which for any reason appears to be invalid by another which the court has power to impose or make."
"Victim out of hospital but although improving will never be 100% - head injury."
"I know the CPS got what they wanted and nothing can change but I feel I must put into words the absolute disgust that the family and anyone aware of the situation feels at the leniency of the sentence on this man. It was said in court that the consequences of his irresponsible driving and the total destruction of the lives of so many of both families were not to be taken into account, but I know that this is not the case and magistrates are allowed to consider such when issuing sentence. It was said he had been receiving counselling - so had some of our families, not to mention severe mental and physical torture."
"At the trial a decision was made by Counsel for both prosecution and defence not to advise the Bench [of] the extent of the injuries caused. Had we known the facts and the appropriate case law, it is our opinion that the sentence which we imposed would have exceeded that which we did impose. We now have to consider whether the difference in sentence which we would have imposed would be so great that it offends the interests of justice as perceived by the general public.
"It is our considered opinion that had we been in possession of all the facts as to the extent of injuries caused, consideration could have been given to the imposition of a custodial sentence and would have requested a PSR with all options open including custody.
"The difference between the sentence imposed and that which we now recognise to have been appropriate is so great that to leave this original sentence unchanged offends the principles of natural justice.
"It was clearly a decision of the Prosecuting Counsel not to inform the Bench of the extent of the injuries and this has now been pointed out [and] is accepted by all parties as wrong.
"We were also not advised by the legal adviser that we should have been given information on the extent of the injuries caused to the complainant, this also was wrong.
"We recognised there has been been a substantial delay in bringing this matter back to court and that this delay is not the responsibility of the defence.
"Having taken all the above into account and having taken into account all that both [the prosecutor] and [the defence counsel] have said we will reopen the case for reconsideration of the sentence for which we will require a full PSR."
Following that, application was made to this court and, pending this court's decision, the justices adjourned further consideration of the case.
"... the justices were wrong in law and on the facts in believing that they had jurisdiction to make an order under section 142(2) of the [1980 Act]. The purpose of that section was to rectify mistakes. It was generally and correctly to be regarded as a slip rule and the power under the section could not be extended to cover situations beyond those akin to a mistake. Thus it was wholly wrong to employ section 142(2) as a method by which a defendant could obtain a rehearing in circumstances where he could not appeal to the Crown Court by reason of his unequivocal plea of guilty. Nor was it in the interests of justice. The interests of justice also included the interests of the Courts and the public that people who had pleaded guilty with the advice of counsel should continue to be regarded as guilty and that there should be certainty and an end to litigation."
"That brings me to the question whether any legal consequences flow from the characterisation of the Home Secretary's function as involving a decision on punishment. It is a general principle of the common law that a lawful sentence pronounced by a judge may not retrospectively be increased."
That is the principle. Pierson's case, I should have said, was a challenge to the Secretary of State's exercise of a power that he believed he had to increase the tariff on life sentences following convictions for murder.
"For the sake of completeness I refer to the procedure for referring unduly lenient sentences to the Court of Appeal. This procedure is hedged around with safeguards: see section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. The general principle of our law is therefore that a convicted criminal is entitled to know where he stands so far as his punishment is concerned. He is entitled to legal certainty about his punishment. His rights will be enforced by the courts."
"It is true that the principle of legality only has prima facie force. But in enacting section 35(2) of the Act of 1991, with its very wide power to release prisoners, Parliament left untouched the fundamental principle that a sentence lawfully passed should not retrospectively be increased."
"The minimum standard of fairness does not permit a person to be punished twice for the same offence. Nor does it permit a person, once he has been told what his punishment is to be, to be given in substitution for it a more severe punishment."
"It was said in court that the consequences of his irresponsible driving and the total destruction of the lives of so many of both families were not to be taken into account, but I know that this is not the case and magistrates are allowed to consider such when issuing sentence. It was said he had been receiving counselling - so had some of our families, not to mention severe mental and physical torture."
"The Bench was aware from the evidence given that [the victim] had been struck at speed [and] knocked into the air..."