On 5th March Michael Ireland a self-styled “spiritual healer and psychic” was sent to prison for a total period of 16 years for various sexual offences. What does that mean and why that long? This case (or at least the BBC news report) is a good example of how hard it is to
The facts are taken from the news reports, so may or may not be accurate. We are told that he used his position as a person of trust to abuse people over a period of 25 years. We know that there were 25 charges and we know the total sentence.
We don’t know what the offences were (a crucial detail), how many victims there were or when he pleaded guilty. For this reason, it is impossible to give any comments on it.
We can say that the sentence was very high, especially as there was a guilty plea (with the consequences of Mr Ireland getting credit for that). There are sentencing guidelines for Sexual Offences (see here for more detail). He will be in prison for about eight years (see here for more details on that) and that he will be on the Sex Offenders Register for life.
These sorts of historic cases can present an extra problem – they can span several pieces of legislation (here, the Sexual Offences Act 2003, especially important given that this completely re-wrote the law relating to sexual offences, including the penalties).
This is exactly the sort of case where it would be very useful to have the sentencing remarks so that we could make sense of the sentence. In the absence of that, or at least an appeal (where the facts will be set out), there’s not much more that we could say unfortunately.