R v Lattimore

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLORD JUSTICE SCARMAN
Judgment Date17 October 1975
Neutral Citation[1975] EWCA Crim J1017-2
Judgment citation (vLex)[1975] EWCA Crim J1017-1
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Docket NumberNo. 2830/R/75 No. 2832/R/75
Date17 October 1975

[1975] EWCA Crim J1017-1

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

CRIMINAL DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice

Before:

Lord Justice Scarman

Lord Justice Ormrod

and

Mr. Justice Swanwick

No. 2830/R/75

No. 2831/R/75

No. 2832/R/75

Regina
and
Colin George Lattimore
Ahmet Salih
and
Ronald William Leighton

MR. C. HAWSER, Q.C. and MR. M.J. CAPLAN appeared on behalf of the Appellants.

MR. R.L.D. DU CANN, Q.C. and MR. J.P.V. BEVAN appeared on behalf of the Crown.

1

JUDGMENT (On Sentence)

LORD JUSTICE SCARMAN
2

Now that the verdicts in relation to the killing of Confait and the arson at 27 Doggett Road have been quashed, there arises the difficult problem as to the appropriate sentence in respect of those offences of which these appellants remain convicted or in respect of which they have pleaded guilty. There are two offences outstanding in respect of which they have to be sentenced: the fire at the store-hut at Ladywell Fields, for which all of them have to be sentenced and the burglary at Sangley Road, for which two of them, Leighton and Salih, have to be sentenced.

3

The difficulty about sentencing is obvious. These offences, serious though they were, were committed in 1972. Since 1972 these three young men however have been paying the penalty and have been subjected to the restrictions imposed by the Court for participation in a killing and an arson, the verdicts for which have now, in 1975, been quashed. Lattimore, who has a health problem, was ordered to be detained at Rampton Hospital, subject to a restriction order without limit of time in respect of his alleged participation in the killing of Confait; Leighton was sentenced to be detained during Her Majesty's pleasure in respect of his alleged participation in the murder; and Salih was sentenced to four years' detention for his alleged part in the arson.

4

Thus these three young men have been without their liberty for several years in respect of offences which, in the view of this Court, should not have been made the subject of guilty verdicts. We think that the suffering imposed upon them in respect of offences of which they are innocent, must be brought into account in dealing now, three years later, with offences to which they have either pleaded or been found guilty. If one could look merely at the balance of justice, it would be right that they should in fact, having suffered in the way I have indicated, go free back into the community.

5

But there are problems. Lattimore was not sentenced to imprisonment. He was made the subject of a hospital order. We have now had the benefit of medical reports from Dr. McConnell at Rampton, and it is clear that this young man still needs not only social support but medical help and treatment. There is however, no indication in the reports that he is a danger to society. The Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr. Woolf, thinks that a probation order would be appropriate in Lattimore's case with a condition of treatment. When one comes to Leighton, there is no health problem, but there is a very real behaviour problem and again here is a young man who is going to need all the support that society can give him on his return to the community.

6

The plain indication is a probation order. But a probation order carries with it certain risks and dangers for these young men which, in the circumstances of this case, we think it unjust to impose upon them. A probation order is of course essentially designed to keep a person out of prison, to keep him in the community and to give him the support that his delinquency indicates he needs. But there is a sanction attached by law to a probation order, that if during the period of the probation order a probationer fails to comply with the conditions of the order or commits any other criminal offence, he is liable to be brought back to the court and sentenced for the original offence in respect of which the probation order was made.

7

Just think what that means in this case. These two young men committed offences of arson in 1972 for which no separate penalty was imposed, because at the same time they were wrongly convicted of homicide and another arson, in respect of which they have lost their liberty ever since. It would be, in the judgment of this Court, a miscarriage of justice to allow the threat, even the theoretical threat, of punisnment for/these old offences, they having suffered as they have, to continue one moment beyond today, let alone for a year, two years or three years that a probation order might last. Therefore, although we are convinced that these two young men need the sort of support that a probation order would provide for them, we cannot in justice make that order.

8

This means that we have to rely upon the voluntary co-operation of the two young men and their families with the social workers who are prepared to be concerned and to help. We have had a very helpful report in writing this morning from the Senior Probation Officer, Mr. McNabb. It is plain from what he says that the assistance of the social service is available, and will be enthusiastically available, to these young men and their families if they are prepared to co-operate. We have a very good report upon Lattimore's family. There is a question mark perhaps over Leighton's family life, but this question we must allow to be resolved according to the way the family chooses to answer it. Therefore expressing the hope that notwithstanding the absence of a probation order these young men and their families will make full use of the social and medical services available to help them, we propose to take a course which, as far as they are concerned, will end this tragic chapter in their lives, allowing them to look forward, and not compelling them to look back over their shoulders at what might happen in the event of some minor delinquency.

9

We have considered whether we could leave the indictment on the file endorsed with findings of guilt but no penalty imposed. We think this is undesirable. A sentence must be passed, if only in the interests of the defendants themselves: because a sentence not only punishes but sets a limit to the punishment that can be given.

10

In our judgment we can, in the peculiar circumstances of this case, give these offenders an absolute discharge. The current statute, which reproduces previous legislation, is the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973. Section 7(1) of that Act provides: "Where a court by or before which a person is convicted of an offence (not being an offence the sentence for which is fixed by law) is of opinion, having regard to the circumstances including the nature of the offence and the character of the offender, that it is inexpedient to inflict punishment and that a probation order is not appropriate, the court may make an order discharging him absolutely….".

11

We have already indicated that in our judgment a probation order is not appropriate despite its manifold advantages; for it would, for the reasons I have given, be unjust. We have also said why it would be wrong now to impose any further punishment on these young men in respect of offences which were before the Central Criminal Court in November 1972. That being so, although the nature of the offences and the character of these offenders are such that in 1972 they would not have deserved an absolute discharge, yet in all the circumstances of today we have come to the conclusion that an absolute discharge is appropriate.

12

So far we have dealt solely with Lattimore and Leighton, because those are the difficult cases. Salih's case is an easy one. He has shown every indication of settling down and doing well. If therefore we can properly give an absolute discharge to Lattimore and Leighton, we certainly can give an absolute discharge to Salih.

13

For these reasons the sentence of the Court is that in respect of the outstanding offences upon this indictment each appellant will be given an absolute discharge.

[1975] EWCA Crim J1017-2

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

CRIMINAL DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice

Before:

Lord Justice Scarman

Lord Justice Ormrod

and

Mr. Justice Swanwick

No. 2830/R/75

No. 2831/R/75

No. 2832/R/75

Regina
and
Colin George Lattimore
Ahmet Salih
and
Ronald William Leighton

MR. C. HAWSER, Q.C. and MR. M.J. CAPLAN appeared on behalf of the Appellants.

MR. R.L.D. DU CANN, Q.C. and MR. J.P.V. BEVAN appeared on behalf of the Crown.

LORD JUSTICE SCARMAN
1

The judgment I am about to read is the considered judgment of the Court.

2

During the night of the 21st/22nd April 1972, a man, Maxwell Confait, was strangled in an upper room at 27, Doggett Road, Lewisham, and the house set on fire.

3

On the 24th November 1972 at the Central Criminal Court after a trial which lasted eighteen days, Colin George Lattimore, then aged 19, Ronald William Leighton, then aged 16, and Ahmet Salih, then aged 14, were convicted and sentenced for a number of offences including the killing of Confait and the arson at 27, Doggett Road. The detail was as follows: (1) upon a count charging Lattimore and Leighton with the murder of Confait: Lattimore, guilty of manslaughter because of diminished responsibility, and ordered to be detained at Rampton Hospital subject to a restriction order without limit of time: Leighton, guilty of murder and sentenced to be detained during Her Majesty's pleasure; (2) upon a count charging all three of them with arson at 27 Doggett Road, all found guilty: no separate sentence upon Lattimore or Leighton: a sentence of four years' detention imposed upon Salih; (3) upon a count charging Leighton and Salih with burglary at a shoe shop in Sangley...

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