Mental health

Date01 December 2020
Published date01 December 2020
Subject MatterIn court
determining that immediate custody would not promote his recovery and that,
‘given another chance, one might well see you not doing this type of offending
again’, the judge imposed a total of two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two
years, with a six-month DRR plus a rehabilitation activity requirement and 50 hours
of unpaid work.
On reference by the Attorney General on grounds of undue lenience, it was
submitted that, far from being at the bottom end of the range, T.’s offences were
aggravated by his previous convictions, plus his possession of a knife and a sum of
money indicative of the scale and frequency of his dealing. His sentence should not
have been less than three years and four months’ imprisonment (after credit for plea)
and accordingly there had been no scope for a suspended sentence. In response,
T.’s counsel drew attention to the part of the Guideline indicating:
Where the defendant is dependent on or has a propensity to misuse drugs and there is
sufficient prospect of success, a community order with a [DRR] ...can be a proper
alternative to a short or moderate length custodial sentence.
While not wishing to discourage judges from applying that guidance, ‘where it is
appropriate to do so’, the Court of Appeal was satisfied that this had not been an
appropriate instance. First, T.’s possession of a significant amount of cash, which by
his plea indicated to be the proceeds of crime, gave the lie to his assertion to the PSR
author of the pre-sentence report and pointed away from any finding that he was at
the very bottom end of the supply chain, acting simply on the instructions of others.
At the very least, he was ‘trusted to continue his trips to and from [an associate’s] flat
without handing over the proceeds of previous drug dealing’. Secondly, his long
record of previous convictions, albeit mostly for different types of crime, was a
significant aggravating feature. Third, though he might want to break away from
drugs he had not been able in the past to put his good intentions into effect and there
was ‘no basis for thinking he will be more successful in the near future’. It could not
properly be concluded that the prospects of success were such as to justify the
imposition of a DRR. The minimum sentence which could properly have been
imposed was 40 months’ imprisonment. Having regard to his partial performance
thus far on his SSO, a term of three years was substituted.
R v TAME (ATTORNEY GENERAL’s Reference), [2020] 1 Cr App R(S) 62.
Mental health
Generic considerations: Culpability and other mitigation
Dealing with three unrelated appeals together to enable the Court of Appeal to give
general guidance on the proper approach to sentencing offenders who suffer from
autism or other mental health conditions or disorders, at a point when a specific
Sentencing Council (SC) Guideline was still awaited*, Lord Burnett CJ identified the
relevance of this issue as follows:
In court 463

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