Adebowale receives permission to appeal against 45-year minimum term


From the Guardian

Michael Adebowale, one of two men convicted for the brutal murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich in 2013, has been given permission to appeal against his sentence. In January 2014, he was sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment with a minimum term of 45 years. Our write-up of the sentencing hearing can be viewed here.

It is expected that he will appeal against the length of the minimum term only, as the life sentence is mandatory.

What’s the process? 

After being sentenced, a defendant has 28 days in which to lodge grounds of appeal against sentence. Once that period has expired, a defendant wanting to appeal would have to apply ‘out of time’ and provide reasons why the application is late.

Once grounds have been submitted, the case papers are prepared by the Criminal Appeal Office and placed before ‘the single judge’ – a high court judge who sits on his or her own (hence ‘single’) and reviews the case on the papers only.

The single judge then grants or refuses leave to appeal. Granting leave means a full oral hearing will follow.  Refusing leave gives the defendant one of two options: a) leave it there – the single judge has indicated that the grounds aren’t arguable, or b) renew the application for leave. This second option means that the defendant effectively ‘forces’ an oral hearing and applies once again for leave (permission to appeal) before the full court (in sentence cases this is either two or three judges).

In a renewed application, the court will consider the application for leave, and where they decide it ought to be granted, they can (but don’t have to) deal with the appeal there and then. If they refuse leave, they can make a direction for a loss of time which means any time spent in custody between applying for leave and the hearing does  not count against the sentence. In effect, it adds on some time to the sentence that has to be served.


Adebowale has received leave and so a full hearing will follow. As what ever the result, he will spend a very long time in prison, it is likely to take a good few months before it comes before the court. We will of course cover it when it does.

5 thoughts on “Adebowale receives permission to appeal against 45-year minimum term

  1. Andrew

    As to “single judge”: some years ago a French legal journal publication had an article about some of the quirks of the English legal system (as if there could be quirks in anything so preternaturally perfect) and one which the writer identified was that in the Court of Appeal extra paperwork was demanded of judges who were not married.

    The writer had misunderstood the words “a single judge” big-time. Un juge celibataire!

  2. Sam

    Interesting read, I think he should of definitely got life. The fact that he has been given this opportunity is awful. I recently took an interest in criminal court cases after sitting down with a solicitor at Qamar Solicitors, Ben Tighe was very helpful during my case (which I thankfully won by the way!)

    Thanks for the article.

  3. Captain Sensible

    If we had the death penalty this resource wasting appeal nonsense would be irrelevant.

  4. Mark

    This is very interesting article. its worth reading it, meanwhile if you like to check on law website in UK please click link below. Mackenzie & Co Solicitors Address : 146 London Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 5BG. Contact : 020 8569 6289 079 5657 0788 (Emergency Contact) 020 8569 6290


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