In court

Published date01 June 2019
Date01 June 2019
Subject MatterIn court
In court
In court
Nigel Stone, Visiting Fellow in the School of Psychology, University of East Anglia,
reviews recent appeal judgments and other judicial developments that inform sen-
tencing and early release.
General sentencing issues
Defrauding the vulnerable: Assessing seriousness
Aged in his early 20s, C. called at and gained admission to the home of a man
aged 82 in poor health who had recently had work carried out on his roof for which
he had paid in full £650. Wearing a hard hat and carrying papers that might
suggest he was genuine, he claimed completely falsely that the victim owed £480
for unpaid VAT. When the householder queried this amount, given the cost of the
repairs, C. offered to settle for £280. Suspicious that this might be a scam, the
householder declined to pay anything. C. stated that he would return the following
week, leaving the occupier anxious and nervous. Because of previous bids to
defraud him his daughter had had CCTV installed and footage enabled the police to
identify C., who had a criminal history involving dishonesty and violence, including
an instance of s18 wounding for which he had incurred 40 months detention with
licence, ending a few months before this incident.
On C.’s appeal against sentence of 12 months imprisonment following guilty
plea to attempted fraud, it was argued on his behalf that the judge had wrongly
double-counted the vulnerability of the victim when assessing both culpability and
harm, thus incorrectly regarding him as falling within Category 4 of the relevant
Definitive Guideline (2014) and passing an excessive sentence. The Court of
Appeal disagreed. In respect of culpability the judge had been correct to identify
‘deliberately targeting victim on basis of vulnerability’ as indicating high culpability.
As regards harm, this is assessed by reference to the financial amount involved and
to the impact on the victim – the greater the impact, the graver the harm. The judge
had been right to conclude that the victim had been particularly vulnerable. That
analysis on the basis of two separate and distinct concepts, each involving con-
sideration of vulnerability, did not amount to improper double-counting but the
proper application of the guidance given by the Sentencing Council. The view to the
The Journal of Community and Criminal Justice
Probation Journal
2019, Vol. 66(2) 262–273
ªThe Author(s) 2019
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0264550519838160

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