Villainous Vicar banged up

Introduction

On 14th February 2013, the Reverend Peter Hesketh was sent to prison for three and a half years for theft. It’s been a week or so of downfalls for figures of authority, but why did he get so long and how long will he be in prison?

Rev Hesketh was appointed a power of attorney over a Peter Court. Although it is unclear, it seems that Mr Court was a friend and Rev Hesketh would have been chosen to administer Mr Court’s affairs whilst he was incapable of so doing due to ill health.

This is a relatively common thing to happen nowadays. However, with it goes a very high level of responsibility. The person with the power of attorney has complete freedom to deal with the other person’s financial affairs. It seems here that Rev Hesketh abused this position and siphoned off somewhere in the region of £60,000 for his own use.

Why 3½ years?

We don’t, as usual, have the sentencing remarks. We do know that there was a trial, so there would have been no credit for a plea of guilty. The first port of call is the Sentencing Guidelines for theft. It is theft in the highest breach of trust so, for a theft of over £20,000, the sentencing range is 2-6 years, with a starting point of 3 years.

It’s probably fair to assume that Rev Hesketh does not have any previous convictions or has been in trouble before. None of the aggravating or mitigating features would seem to be present here. For that reason, we can only speculate. However, it is likely that the Judge looked at the guidelines and took the 3 year starting point, with six months extra added on to reflect the high amount.

Do you get any discount for being a man of the cloth?

Probably not. It’s a feature of most offences of theft ‘in breach of trust’ that the person in the dock is someone of unblemished record. For that reason, this would not have counted for much by way of mitigation. The fall from grace is hard, but the Court will often balance that against the fact that it is someone who ‘should know better’.

How long will he serve?

He will have to serve half the time in prison and half in the community ‘on licence’. This means that he is looking at 1¾ years in prison. He will almost certainly be eligible for Home Detention Curfew – release on a tag – which means that he will be released somewhere up to 135 days (about 4½ months) before then, in about 16½ months.

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About Dan Bunting

I'm a lawyer who works for myself. Legal geek, maths freak, general dullard and jack of all trades. Here’s a few views on law and occasional musings on life. Usual caveats about not relying on anything I say etc applies.

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