Tag Archives: Burglary

Burglars to get longer sentences when children give evidence – More nonsense from the MoJ

splogger-content-theft

Earlier this week, The Evening Standard ran a story that claimed ‘Burglars will face tougher jail sentences if children traumatised by the raids bravely tell courts of their ordeal.’

This was, it seems, a response to a statement made by Justice Minister Damian Green MP who the Standard reported, ‘stressed that judges should take into account personal victim statements made by youngsters, as well as adults, whose homes are burgled.’

What is he talking about?

That is the question I found myself asking, right before I emailed Dan to say ‘what a load of fucking nonsense’.

Just a few problems…

The article is somewhat confusing, seemingly failing to draw a distinction between children giving evidence at a burglary trial, and children making a Victim Impact Statement, and choosing to read that aloud at a sentencing hearing.

What’s the difference? Well at a trial, our fictional child may give evidence about the burglary (what he or she saw etc.), so that the jury or magistrates can determine whether or not our ‘burglar’ did it. At a sentencing hearing, our fictional child may choose to read his or her Victim Impact Statement aloud to the court (how the offence has affected them, are they scared to be in the house etc.).

So there is the first problem. The second problem is that the article (and Mr Green if the article is faithful to the points he was making) is making out as though this is a reform, and that the MoJ are making provisions for tougher sentences when children are affected by a burglary. The problem? That already happens.

The Burglary sentencing guidelines lists the following as aggravating factors:

[Aggravated burglary] Child at home (or returns home) when offence committed

[Domestic burglary] Occupier at home (or returns home) while offender present

Clearly, ‘occupier’ would encompass a child, and so when a child is at home during a burglary, that will be considered to be an aggravating factor and reflected in the final sentence.

The third problem is the suggestion that the Victims’ Code is somehow going to result in longer sentences for burglars. Firstly, there was already an inherent power to allow a victim to read a Victim Impact Statement aloud. The Code has simply formalised that power and is likely to have made it more common (but not by a great deal I don’t expect). Secondly, the idea that by reading your statement aloud, the defendant is going to get a longer sentence is simply wrong – it may put pressure on a person to read their statement when they do not wish to do so, and may encourage exaggerated or untrue statements. To suggest such a thing is irresponsible. Thirdly, it is common sense that whether read aloud or simply written and handed to the judge, the sentence will reflect the effect on the victim, as explained in the Victim Impact Statement – not by how well it is articulated orally in court.

So there we are. More nonsense from the Ministry of Justice, and a bit of dodgy press reporting to boot.

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Burglar trapped hanging over toilet says “please help. call the police”

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Taken from the Telegraph website

Daniel Severn, aged 27, broke into a house intending to steal its contents to sell to fund his heroin addiction. He was carrying a bag and wearing marigolds.

The occupier had gone to bed leaving the bathroom window open so that his cat could get into the house.

At 5.30am he went to the bathroom as he was about to get ready for work. He heard moaning coming from inside the bathroom. As he opened the door, Daniel Severn was “dangling” from the bathroom window, his foot evidently becoming stuck as he attempted to gain entry.

Severn reportedly said to the occupier “Please help. Call the police.”

The police were called and Severn told them that he had been trying to call them as he had been stuck for over an hour. It appears he had dropped his phone in the bath.

Previous

He had 80 previous convictions and, according to the Telegraph (where most of the details in this post come from) “was not very good at crime”. He had previously received an 18-month suspended sentence for burglary in 2009.

Plea

Severn pleaded guilty to a burglary, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of 260 diazepam tablets.

Sentence

He received 2 years and four months.

It is likely that this qualified for the minimum sentence for a third domestic burglary. See our fact sheet here on mandatory sentences for a brief explanation.

In those circumstances, the minimum sentence can be discounted by up to 20% of the 3-year minimum. That means that 2 years 4 months (4.8 technically) is the least sentence that could be imposed on the burglary count.

We have no facts about the other two offences and it is likely that because of the principle of totality that any penalty imposed on the other offences were made concurrent (served at the same time) not consecutive (served one after the other) to the burglary sentence.

Let’s hope he gets some drug treatment whilst in prison.

8 year-old girls suspected of burglary at nursery

Five school children aged between 8 and 10 years-old are suspected of stealing five bicycles from a nursery in Surrey during a purported break-in.  The break-in is said to have occurred between 16th and 19th August.  Reports suggest £500 worth of damage was caused to Leatherhead Trinity Children’s Centre after sandpits were opened and left “exposed to the weather,” according to police.

The bicycles were recovered and returned, undamaged, to the centre.

The police say all five girls have been spoken to.  Two of the girls were under ten years of age, which in England and Wales is the age of criminal responsibility.  The police cannot take any action against any child below the age of 10, regardless of the crime that is said to have been committed.

Three of the girls, all aged 10, were interviewed and investigations are yet to be resolved.

Stealing from the hand that feeds – teenager jailed for stealing from friend’s family

Last Friday nineteen year-old Steven Sibley was sentenced to three years and three months in a Young Offenders’ Institute having pleaded guilty at Lewis Crown Court to a string of offences including burglary, aggravated burglary, fraud and theft.

The victims of one of the burglaries was the family of one of Sibley’s friends.  That burglary occurred the day after a family meal, to which Sibley had been invited.  The following day various expensive items were missing, including laptops, a television and an iPod.  Fingerprints on a bedroom window traced Sibley to the scene.  He was later found to have cashed a cheque for £250 from a chequebook found in the home.