Morgan v Secretary of State for Justice

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
JudgeMr Justice William Davis
Judgment Date26 January 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] EWHC 106 (Admin)
Docket NumberCase No: CO/1760/2014
Date26 January 2016

[2016] EWHC 106 (Admin)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Before:

The Hon. Mr Justice William Davis

Case No: CO/1760/2014

Between:
Morgan
Claimant
and
Secretary of State for Justice
Defendant

Mr Hugh Southey QC (instructed by Kyles Legal Practice Ltd) for the Claimant

Mr David Pievsky (instructed by GLD) for the Defendant

Hearing dates: 15 December 2015

Mr Justice William Davis
1

The Claimant, Stuart Morgan, is a serving Category A prisoner and has been since 1996 when he was convicted of murder. He has served his entire sentence at HMP Frankland. His minimum tariff period to meet the requirements of retribution and deterrence was set at 20 years. This period will expire on 21 February 2016. He seeks judicial review of the decisions of the Defendant's Category A Review Team ("CART") to refuse to recategorise him from Category A to Category B and to refuse to grant him an oral hearing prior to the making of the categorisation decision. It is said that the categorisation decisions should be quashed and that there should be a declaration that the Claimant is entitled to an oral hearing when his categorisation is reviewed. He also claims that he has not been provided with proper opportunity to undertake offending behaviour work and seeks a declaration to that effect.

2

The claim for judicial review initially related to a decision made by CART in January 2014. Any prisoner in the position of the Claimant will have his categorisation reviewed annually. Because the claim was stayed for a considerable period pending other litigation, CART made a further decision in January 2015. The Claimant was given leave to amend his claim to include a challenge to this further decision. It is that decision which was the focus of the submissions made to me. The reasoning of the later decision in relation to categorisation was in very similar terms to the earlier decision. There was a change in July 2014 to the Defendant's published instruction (PSI 08/2013) in relation to oral hearings in relation to categorisation decisions, the change in policy being prompted by the decision of the Supreme Court in R (Osborn) v Parole Board [2014] AC 1115. The decision in January 2015 to refuse an oral hearing was taken against the background of the revised instruction.

3

The Secretary of State for Justice who is responsible for CART disputes the claim in its entirety. He argues that CART was entitled to reach the view it did in respect of the risk posed by the Claimant. It is accepted that an oral hearing was refused but it is said that this was appropriate in the circumstances of the Claimant's position. The Secretary of State says that the Claimant has been given proper opportunity to undertake offending behaviour work and that the prime reason for such work not having been undertaken has been the Claimant's refusal to accept that he has relevant offending behaviour to address.

Background

4

Stuart Morgan is now aged 56. I shall refer to him for the purposes of brevity as Morgan. No discourtesy is intended. He was 36 at the time of the offence which was committed in December 1995 and 37 when he was convicted in October 1996. Until his conviction for murder his criminal history was modest. He had committed burglaries and serious driving offences in his teens which resulted in a period of Borstal training. He had been convicted of criminal damage in 1984 and 1995. There was nothing in that history which would have suggested that he would go on to commit murder. At the time of the offence he was working as a lorry driver. To all outward appearances there was nothing to suggest that he was by then anything other than an ordinary working man.

5

Evidence of the circumstances of the murder was available to me via the trial judge's report to the Home Secretary, the trial date pre-dating the removal of the Home Secretary's power to set a tariff by some years, and via the judgment of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division delivered in February 1998 when it refused a renewed application for leave to appeal against conviction. It is clear that at some point those considering Morgan's categorisation must have had access to one or other or both of those documents. They reveal that at the time of the offence Morgan took a number of considered steps to conceal what he had done. However, it is not clear whether CART had that material specifically in mind at the time of the decisions in question. The evidence of Mr Easton, the Defendant's Head of Review Casework, is that CART will be provided with a prisoner's offending history which "may" include the report of the trial judge. In relation to the circumstances of the offence I must consider the decisions in this case on the basis simply of the material concerning the offence to which specific reference is made in the evidence.

6

That material principally consisted of the OASys assessment provided to CART at the time of the decisions in 2014 and 2015. It set out the following. Morgan's victim was a 19 year old hitchhiker from France named Celine Figard whom he had picked up in his lorry in mid-December 1995 at a service station on the M4 in Berkshire. He killed her either on the day he picked her up or on the following day by inflicting repeated blows to her head with a blunt instrument causing catastrophic head injuries. There was also evidence of strangulation. Prior to her death he had had sexual intercourse with her. Wherever it was that he killed his victim, he had dumped her naked body 10 days later in a lay-by on a road near Worcester. It follows that he had kept the body somewhere for those 10 days over the Christmas period whilst he had spent time with his family. He had kept items belonging to his victim which he had hidden between inner and outer walls in his garage at home. The assessment identified a sexual motivation for the murder. The assessment noted that Morgan's account at trial was that he had picked up the girl in question, that he had had consensual sexual intercourse with her and that he had dropped her off alive and well in Southampton. This account was only given when DNA and other evidence linked Morgan to the victim. In his initial interviews he had denied any knowledge of her.

7

As already noted Morgan applied for leave to appeal against his conviction and renewed the application to the Full Court when it was refused by the single judge. He maintains his innocence to this day. This has manifested itself when the issue of undertaking offence related courses has arisen. The evidence placed before me is as follows.

• In May 2005 Morgan was asked by the Psychology Department at Frankland if he wished to be assessed for the Enhanced Thinking Skills programme. He said that he was not prepared to undertake any course as he was denying the offence of murder and that he was not prepared to engage in a course on the basis of previous convictions since they already had been addressed. This latter reference must have arisen when it was suggested that he could engage in a programme with his previous offending being the starting point.

• In October 2012 Morgan was asked if he was willing to participate in the Thinking Skills programme for which he had been assessed as suitable. He said that he was not prepared to participate and that the assessment had been completed on false information. The suggestion that he could engage in the programme by reference to his earlier offending was repeated. His response was the same as in 2005. Morgan also said that he would not engage in any sex offender treatment programme. His position was that he only could complete such a programme if he had been convicted of a sexual offence – which he had not. He could not address something he had not done.

• In December 2013 Morgan was reported as saying that he was unwilling to address any aspect of his offending behaviour in case it compromised any future appeal. (It should be said that no further appeal appears to be in prospect.)

• In March 2014 Morgan was invited in writing by the Psychology Department at Frankland to attend a meeting for assessment for a sexual offender treatment programme. He declined the invitation. In the space on the form provided for setting out the reasons for non-attendance he wrote "too long to list here."

• In January 2015 further consideration was given to Morgan engaging in a thinking skills programme. His reported response was that he was innocent of the offence for which he was serving his sentence and that he was not prepared to engage by reference to his previous convictions because these concerned his behaviour as a child and were not similar to the offence of murder.

8

In December 2013 solicitors acting on behalf of Morgan – the same solicitors represent him in these proceedings – made written representations to CART in relation to the review of his categorisation i.e. the review which in due course was carried out in January 2014. I shall return to the wider approach taken by the solicitors in those representations, an approach not mirrored in the submissions made to me. In relation to offending behaviour programmes the solicitors said this: "it will not be possible for Mr Morgan to complete any of these courses whilst he maintains his innocence."

9

Evidence from Morgan himself was filed on the day prior to the hearing before me. It repeated his declaration of innocence in relation to the murder of Celine Figard. He stated that he had no objection to engaging in any offending behaviour programme which did not require him to accept involvement in her death. He said this: "I am of course willing to...

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