Dartford MP Gareth Johnson wants change in law on unduly lenient sentences
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson is trying to change the law so unduly
lenient sentences handed to criminals can be challenged.
naturally favour the rights of the criminal over the victim,
according to Mr Johnson, who will present a Bill to the House of
Commons later this month.
In the UK, defence teams can appeal any sentence given at
magistrates’ court, youth court or crown court if they feel it is
But the prosecution can only appeal against sentences they feel
are too lenient in cases involving the most serious crimes.
The Attorney General’s office revealed it had received a large
number of requests asking law officers to refer lenient sentences
to the Court of Appeal but only certain serious offences can be
Mr Johnson said: “It’s not right that the defence can appeal in
almost any situation, but the prosecution can only appeal in the
most serious instances of robbery, rape and murder.”
At the moment, an offender sentenced in crown court for some
sexual offences, serious assault, burglary or dangerous driving
cannot be subject to a prosecution appeal.
Mr Johnson worked in criminal justice for more than 20 years
before going into politics. He said: “I want to see more checks and
balances for the prosecution.
One of the cases which encouraged
Mr Johnson to bring the Bill is one of three men who filmed
themselves assaulting a 17-year-old boy with autism and Asperger’s
They kicked and stamped on his
head, repeatedly punched him, beat him with a tennis racket,
scratched his arms and leg with sandpaper, threw him down a hill,
pelted him with dog mess and forced him to drink alcohol.
Despite admitting the attacks that
could “almost be called torture”, Judge Jonathan Geake, sitting at
Manchester Crown Court, handed out community service orders and
three-month curfews as “an intensive alternative to custody” on
October 11, 2010.
“I’ve been aware that this has been a problem for some time now.
We have a system which inherently favours the rights of the
offender over the rights of the victim.
“I have already spoken to Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State
for Justice, and with the Attorney General Dominic Grieve about the
Bill and both of them are positive about it.
“Hopefully it will be a start to changing the justice system for
Mr Johnson is bringing the Private Member’s Bill “to extend the
powers of prosecuting authorities to appeal against unduly lenient
sentences imposed in the Criminal Courts” to the House of Commons
It is just the start of a long process.
The Bill, if popular, will have to be discussed at various
levels, including the House of Lords, and it could take months,
maybe even years, before it reaches a conclusion.
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