Monthly Archives: November 2013

Mairead Philpott appeal dismissed – and on tele

philpottt

Introduction

The case of the Philpotts is well known, and well documented (our coverage is here). We have looked at the history of the potential appeal and the fact that it was set to be televised.

Well, on 29th November 2013 we found out the result – her appeal was dismissed. Mr Mosely  had previously sought to renew his application  but had withdrew it.

You can at least watch the judgment and do not have to wait for it to be published. It is not particularly surprising that the appeal was dismissed – it was an awful case and one where there is no guidance that covers this sort of offending.

The sentence passed was not out of the range of manslaughter sentences and therefore, notwithstanding Ms Philpott’s lesser role in the whole business, it is not easy to say that it is manifestly excessive. Ms Philpott always had an uphill struggle, particularly in such a high profile case.

 

Thoughts on TV

The BBC article shows the judgment being given and you can see clips on many other news sites. I haven’t, I’m afraid, watched the whole thing (I do have a day job to be getting on with).

It is an impossible question to know what difference the cameras made. It could be said that the judgement was given at a slower pace than usual, but that could be just my imagination.

 

Granting permission

If you are not a lawyer you may have missed the part at the end where the Lord Chief Justice said “although because of the unique nature of this case Mr Smith [Ms Philpott’s barrister] acted very properly in bringing the appeal to this Court and therefore we should grant leave“.

For a lawyer, particularly Ms Philpott’s lawyer, this was significant. We have a factsheet on how appeals work which set out the importance, generally, of getting leave to appeal.

The appeal was dismissed so the fact that leave was granted to pursue the appeal may seem a pointless victory. There are two consequences. Firstly, this means that an application could be made to the Supreme Court for a further appeal. This will not happen in Ms Philpott’s case (there is no point of general importance which would be needed – sentencing cases almost never go higher than the Court of Appeal).

For Ms Philpott’s lawyer, this was a professional victory however. The reason is is that the Court of Appeal, having granted leave to appeal, will grant a representation order and so Mr Smith will get paid.

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Coroner and solicitor Alan Crickmore gets 8 years for ‘theft from the dead’

Taken from BBC News

Taken from BBC News

On 17th October 2013 Alan Crickmore, a coroner (a Judge who is responsible for ascertaining the cause and circumstances of a death, as well as, for historic reasons, dealing with treasure trove) pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to 24 counts of fraud. He was released on bail until the 28th November when he was sentenced.

After the conviction, Dan predicted that Crickmore would get “hammered”, suggesting a sentence of 6 years. On 28 November, Crickmore was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment.

Facts

Crickmore stole money from clients and the estates of deceased clients. The total value of the thefts was about £2 million.

The BBC reported that the police claimed Crickmore had spent £400,000 on his credit card since 2005, including £45,000 on restaurants, £74,000 on supermarket bills, £33,000 on holidays, and £92,000 of cash withdrawals.

There was a two-year investigation into Crickmore’s solictiors firm which resulted in the closure of the firm. Thereafter however, Crickmore continued to draw a £60,000 salary from the council for sitting as a coroner, even though he was suspended.

One of the counts represented the theft of almost £900,000 from the estate of a deceased man.

Sentencing

The maximum sentence is 10 years.

Crickmore received 8 years. The discount given for pleading guilty is not clear, however there will have been some reduction. That places the starting point towards 10 years, which, even using the fraud guidelines (which tend to have higher sentences than the theft guideline, where offences ‘fit’ into both) is high. This is so, even when taking account of the (massive) breach of trust.

An appeal may well be mounted, given that starting at around 10 years,

The prosecution stated they would be seeking confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to recover about £800,000. This is presumably because although Crickmore benefitted to the tune over almost £2m, he only has £800,000 available to confiscate (why make an order which he cannot pay?).

We’ll keep an eye out for an appeal.

Ian Watkins case – breach of the anonymity afforded to victims?

This week we have covered the case of Ian Watkins (who pleaded guilty to child abuse offences) and James Baines, who received a suspended sentence for tweeting photographs purporting to be of Jon Venables.

We noted that the names of the two co-defendants of Mr Watkins were not named. This was not an oversight in the press, but is as a result of the way the law operates to protect the victims of sexual offences (namely the children of the two co-defendants).

We also noted that the Court in the case of Mr Baines warned that breaches of Court orders are taken very seriously and almost always results in a custodial sentence.

Why are we saying this? Well, Dominic Grieve, the Attorney-General, tweeted the following today:

The law is clear. Anyone naming the co-defendants is breaking the law and may find themselves up in Court before being sent to prison. If you’re tempted to tweet or re-tweet the above information, don’t. You have been warned!

Anxiang Du sentenced – life for murder of the Ding family

Introduction

We looked yesterday, 27th November 2013, at the case of Anxiang Du who was convicted of the murder of all four members of the Ding family. He was sentenced today.

Mr Du received a 40 year tariff. This is what we predicted as the correct sentence. We suggested that the starting point was 30 years, but should be increased by 10 years to reflect the fact that four people were killed, the motivation, and the brutal nature of the murder.

Sentence

We now have the sentencing remarks. We can see that the Judge said “these were cold-blooded murders which in my judgment were premeditated and were considered acts of revenge in which you wiped out the entire family. The Judge accepted that Mr Du had ‘moderate depression’, but found that this did not make any difference to his culpability.

The Judge also noted that there were many aggravating features – that there were four murders, there was premeditation,there was a knife taken to the scene and at least two of the victims (the two daughters) were ‘particularly vulnerable’. There were none of the mitigating factors present.

For those reasons, and notwithstanding his age,the Judge set the tariff at 40 years.

Why no whole life tariff?

In deciding that a whole life tariff should not be imposed, the Judge looked at two factors. Firstly, ‘Having reflected on all the features of this case and without in any way underestimating its gravity, it does seem to me that this is not a case in which a whole life order is appropriate, although for reasons I will come to a lengthy minimum term clearly is appropriate.

Secondly, and perhaps more interestingly, he said that in agreement with ‘Sweeney J in his recent sentencing remarks in the case of R v McLoughlin, I consider that, in the light of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Vinter and others on 9 July 2013, particularly at [122], the passing of a whole life sentence within the current legislative framework, which gives no right of review of such a sentence, is in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

We have covered the case of Ian McLoughlin here, as well as the fact that the Attorney-General has referred that case to the Court of Appeal.

It remains to be seen whether Mr Du will be following Mr McLoughlin to the Court of Appeal having to fight off a whole life tariff. Here, we know that the Judge said that the ‘European’ issue was only one reason not to pass a whole life tariff. It may be that in light of that, Mr Du will escape the Attorney-General’s interest in this one.

As we also noted yesterday, Mr Du will be 94 before he can be considered for release. To that extent, it is effectively a whole life tariff.

Rakesh Bhayani gets life with minimum of 27 years for Caroline Waugh murder

Taken from BBC News
Taken from BBC News

Bhayani, 41, was convicted at the Old Bailey on 27 November 2013. He had previously pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and conspiracy to defraud. Nicholas Kutner, 48, was convicted of perverting the course of justice and had already pleaded guilty to conpiracy to defraud.

A Mr Khoury, 40, was acquitted of conspiracy to defraud.

Facts

Ms Waugh was an escort and met Bhayani through that work. The court heard that she considered Bhayani a friend and had visited him in prison. The prosecution stated that there had been an intimate relationship between the two at one point in the past.

Ms Waugh was stabbed in the neck in her central London flat. Thereafter, her body was hidden.

Ms Waugh had lent Bhayani about £40,000. An estate agent who gave evidence at the trial stated that in addition to that sum, Bhayani also owed him £17,000.

It appeared that after murdering Ms Waugh, Bhayani attempted to create the impression that she was still alive by sending text messages from her phone. These included messages to the estate agent, arranging to meet in order to hand over money owed. At the last minute, a message from Ms Waugh’s phone would be sent to the estate agent explaining that she could not attend and she had sent her friend (Bhayani) instead.

Bhayani told the estate agent that Ms Waugh had moved out of London in order to care for her sick mother. Thereafter, there was suspicious activity around Ms Waugh’s bank accounts and the police began to investigate. Ms Wuagh’s flat was fraudulently leased and cleared of all her belongings before attempts were made to sell it. Applications for bridging loans and remortgage were made in the sums of £250,000 and £400,000. It is presumed that these were not successful, judging by the descriptions in the news reports.

The news reports state that Bhayani was accused of taking £1m of her assets.

Bhayani had rented a lock up garage in south west London. When the garage was eventually searched, a VW Golf was found inside, inside which was Ms Waugh’s decomposed body.

The BBC reported: Det Ch Insp Justin Davies said after the case: “Bhayani is a confidence trickster who murdered her with the sole intention of stripping her assets and the belongings she had worked hard for.

Sentencing

Bhayani was sentenced to life imprisonment (the only sentence available) with a minimum term of 27 years. This means that he will not be eligible to apply to the parole board for release until the minimum term has expired.

The starting points are explained here. In this case, it is likely that the starting point was 30 years as this was a murder done for gain.

The sentencing remarks are available here. We may update the post once we have had the opportunity to digest them and there is something worth commenting on.

Rakesh Bhayani found guilty of the murder of Caroline Waugh

Taken from BBC News

Taken from BBC News

Bhayani, 41, was convicted at the Old Bailey on 27 November 2013. He had previously pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and conspiracy to defraud. Nicholas Kutner, 48, was convicted of perverting the course of justice and had already pleaded guilty to conpiracy to defraud.

A Mr Khoury, 40, was acquitted of conspiracy to defraud.

Facts

Ms Waugh was an escort and met Bhayani through that work. The court heard that she considered Bhayani a friend and had visited him in prison. The prosecution stated that there had been an intimate relationship between the two at one point in the past.

Ms Waugh was stabbed in the neck in her central London flat. Thereafter, her body was hidden.

Ms Waugh had lent Bhayani about £40,000. An estate agent who gave evidence at the trial stated that in addition to that sum, Bhayani also owed him £17,000.

It appeared that after murdering Ms Waugh, Bhayani attempted to create the impression that she was still alive by sending text messages from her phone. These included messages to the estate agent, arranging to meet in order to hand over money owed. At the last minute, a message from Ms Waugh’s phone would be sent to the estate agent explaining that she could not attend and she had sent her friend (Bhayani) instead.

Bhayani told the estate agent that Ms Waugh had moved out of London in order to care for her sick mother. Thereafter, there was suspicious activity around Ms Waugh’s bank accounts and the police began to investigate. Ms Wuagh’s flat was fraudulently leased and cleared of all her belongings before attempts were made to sell it. Applications for bridging loans and remortgage were made in the sums of £250,000 and £400,000. It is presumed that these were not successful, judging by the descriptions in the news reports.

The news reports state that Bhayani was accused of taking £1m of her assets.

Bhayani had rented a lock up garage in south west London. When the garage was eventually searched, a VW Golf was found inside, inside which was Ms Waugh’s decomposed body.

The BBC reported: Det Ch Insp Justin Davies said after the case: “Bhayani is a confidence trickster who murdered her with the sole intention of stripping her assets and the belongings she had worked hard for.

Sentencing

Sentencing was adjourned so that Ms Waugh’s family could attend.This is an interesting move as it perhaps demonstrates a new approach in how the families of victims may be treated in cases of homicide.Is this yet a further move to put the victim (and their family) at the centre of criminal justice?

The sentence for murder is mandatory life imprisonment. The Judge must set a minimum tariff which must be served before Bhayani can be considered for release by the parole board.

Setting the tariff is a complicated exercise. Reference will be made to the starting points listed in CJA 2003 Sch 21. More information on those starting points can be viewed here.

The starting point will be 30 years – that is because the murder was ‘done for gain’. From there, the Judge will have to assess the aggravating and mitigating factors.

The planning and  the concealment of the body are statutory aggravating factors. The Judge may also wish to take account of the fact that there was an element of breach of trust, in that Ms Waugh regarded Bhayani as a friend. In addition, the use of a knife (which in itself would attract a starting point of 25 years if taken to the scene) will also aggravate the offence.

Bhayani’s previous convictions, of which we know little, are unlikely to have a great impact upon the sentence.

Anxiang Du convicted of four murders

Facts

On 27th November 2013 Anxiang Du (after a surprisingly short trial) was convicted of the murders of the Ding family. The facts are quite horrible – Mr Du had been involved in a protracted legal battle with Mr Ding that he had lost, leaving him with a legal bill of £88,000 and a burning sense of grievance.

On 29th April 2011, the day after he received an injunction relating to the legal dispute, Mr Du went to the Ding family home to ask Mr Ding for money ‘When [Mr Ding] refused, Du stabbed him 23 times, his wife 13 times, Xing 11 times, and Alice four times.‘.

After (somewhat bizarrely) sleeping in the house that night, Mr Du stole their car and drove to London, before fleeing the UK. He was arrested in Morocco last year and extradited.

At the trial Mr Du accepted carrying out the killings, but denied being guilty of murder on the basis of loss of control and/or diminished responsibility. The jury rejected both claims and convicted Mr Du.

What will he get?

Sentence has been adjourned until tomorrow. Mr Du will be sentenced to life imprisonment as that is mandatory for the crime of murder.

The Judge will have to set a ‘tariff’ – the period of time that Mr Du will have to spend in prison before he can be considered for release. The link above gives more details as to how the Judge will approach this.

Mr Du is in line for a ‘whole life’ tariff on the basis that it is the murder of ‘two or more people’ that potentially involved ‘a substantial degree of premeditation or planning‘ as well as ‘sadistic conduct‘ (the repeated stabbing).

Without hearing the evidence it is difficult to say how much planning there was. I would imagine that it is stretching it to call is sadistic (barbaric perhaps, but not sadistic).

On the facts in the news reports we would suggest that the starting point is 30 years, but it would be aggravated by the number of people killed and the manner of the deaths, This would give a starting point higher than 30 years – probably 40 years being the appropriate sentence.

Whether he gets a whole life tariff or 35, or 40 years, it’s all pretty academic. Mr Du is 54 and will almost certainly die in prison whether it is mandated by a whole life tariff not.

We will look again when Mr Du is sentenced tomorrow …