Marc Williams v Scottish Ministers

OUTER HOUSE

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon

No 6
WILLIAMS
and
THE SCOTTISH MINISTERS

Administrative law—Sentencing—Release on licence—Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 (cap 9), sec 27(5)1

Justiciary—Sentencing—Release on licence—Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 (cap 9), secs 1, 27(5)1

Section 1(1) of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 enacts, inter alia, that as soon as a short-term prisoner (ie a person serving a sentence of imprisonment of less than four years) has served one-half of his sentence, the Secretary of State shall release him unconditionally. Subsection (2) enacts that as soon as a long-term prisoner (ie a person serving a sentence of imprisonment for a term of four years or more) has served two-thirds of his sentence, the Secretary of State shall release him on licence. Subsection (3) provides that after a long-term prisoner has served one-half of his sentence the Secretary of State may, if recommended to do so by the Parole Board, release him on licence. Section 27(5) provides that consecutive terms and wholly or partly concurrent terms are to be treated as a single term.

On 30 May 1994, the pursuer was sentenced to four years' detention backdated to 17 January 1994. On 8 November 1996 he was released on licence in accordance with sec 1(2) above. As at that date, he had served two-thirds of his sentence, together with 52 additional days imposed by prison governors. On 22 April 1997, the Secretary of State revoked the pursuer's licence. He was not apprehended until 24 August 1997, by which time he had been unlawfully at large for 124 days. On 30 March 1998, the pursuer was sentenced to six months' imprisonment on a charge of making false representations. That sentence was backdated to 16 February 1998. The pursuer raised an action seeking declarator that he was entitled to be released from prison unconditionally and has been so entitled since 20 May 1998; and, alternatively, that he was entitled to be released from prison on licence and that he has been so entitled since 30 March 1998. The pursuer argued that the two sentences should not be aggregated and treated as one single term of imprisonment. Alternatively, he argued that if the two sentences did fall to be treated as a single term, he had served in custody a period equivalent to two-thirds of the single term of imprisonment. The defenders argued that when account is taken of the 52 additional days, imposed by the...

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