Regina v Roberts (Mark) and others- WLR Daily

Regina v Roberts (Mark) and others [2016] EWCA Crim 71

‘In each of the 13 applications before the court, the applicants applied for an extension of time in which to apply for leave to appeal against sentences of imprisonment or detention for public protection (“IPP”)), imposed between 2005 and 2008 under the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Before the sentence of IPP was amended by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, the court was required to make the assumption that an offender was dangerous if he had been convicted on an earlier occasion of a specified offence, unless it was unreasonable to do so. Where he was found to be dangerous, and over 18, the court was required to pass a sentence of IPP or life imprisonment; the 2003 Act removed all discretion from the court once it was found that the offender was dangerous. All the applicants had either been detained in custody long after the expiry of the minimum term or had been recalled for breach of licence. The applicants submitted (1) that whatever might have been the position at the time the sentences of IPP were passed, the Court of Appeal had power under section 11 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 to pass sentences that, in the light of what had happened over the intervening years, now would be the proper sentence; (2) the Court of Appeal should reconsider the assessments made by sentencing judges in the light of R v Lang [2005] EWCA Crim 2864; [2006] 1 WLR 2509, and (3) a time could and had been reached when the length of the imprisonment was so excessive and disproportionate compared to the index criminal offence that it could amount to inhuman treatment under article 3 or arbitrary detention under article 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. That was because the detention no longer had any meaningful link to the index offence. A much delayed review of a sentencing decision could therefore be a mechanism the court could employ to avoid a breach of those Convention Rights. As the period now served by each of the applicants was so much longer than any conceivable determinate sentence would have required, the continued detention amounted to preventative detention and was therefore arbitrary. ‘

WLR Daily, 18th March 2016