Tag Archives: life sentences

Notorious gang member Sean Bradish faces further life sentences having committed another spate of robberies

Sean Bradish, 46, is facing another life sentence following the commission of four armed raids between April and September 2012.

Bradish poses with champagne after a spate of robberies in 2002

photo courtesy of BBC News

The first life sentences

Bradish was originally convicted in 2001, following a trial, of four offences; conspiracy to rob, 2 offences of having a firearm with intent to commit robbery and an offence of having an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery.  He was sentenced to three automatic life sentences, to run concurrently, with two years concurrent for the imitation firearm.  The sentencing judge fixed a notional determinate sentence of 15 years and a specified minimum term of six years and seven months, having taken into account the 10 months he spent on remand prior to trial.

The second life sentences

A second trial took place in 2002, where Bradish was convicted of four offences; conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to commit robbery, and two offences of robbery.  He received four life sentences, to run concurrently.  The sentencing judge fixed a notional determinate sentence of 28 years, and a specified period of 13 years and 5 months’ imprisonment, having taken into account time on remand.  In sentencing, Judge Forrester said:

“The robberies themselves were carried out with ruthless efficiency and determination, usually to the terror of the public, who were threatened with guns, forcing the staff to hand over money. Not only the public, but the bank staff and the guards manning security vehicles, you made victims of all of them.

… It can be said … that no one was seriously, physically injured — and I stress physically — that is true, although a firearm was discharged on one occasion. You had no need to discharge your loaded firearms … The reason you had no need was because you got what you wanted by the threats at the point of a gun.”

Steven Roberts, a fellow member Bradish’s gang, gave evidence against Bradish in these earlier trials and received a reduced sentence of 8 years.  He gave an insight into the offending in an interview with The Observer in 2002:

‘I first met the Bradish brothers in 1993 when I was drinking in a pub off the Stonebridge Estate [a notorious north London area] which was frequented by at least 18 well-known armed robbers. I was making a living from robbing drug dealers, something I’d started with a couple of old school friends a few years earlier.

‘We had become quite sophisticated. I’d got hold of a police badge and walkie-talkie. I would knock on the dealer’s door, show them the badge, explain there had been an accident, and ask if I could use their phone because my radio wasn’t working.

‘As soon as they opened up a bunch of us would rush in, tie them up and threaten them at gunpoint until they told us where the drugs and money were.

‘It was a good living. One time we came away with £46,000 in cash, another time we got a kilo of cocaine. It was the perfect crime because they couldn’t go to the police.’

‘He [Bradish] asked if I wanted to come along on the robbery and I agreed. We parked around the back of the Thomas Cook in Edgware. He went in first and I followed, locking the door behind me. Sean then shouted at the cashier: “Open the fucking door!” She turned round and said “Oh God, not you again” – he’d already robbed the place five times before.

‘We were in there for less than 20 seconds and came away with £24,000. It was incredible.’

‘After that we’d go to the nearest shop and buy a whole new outfit. Everything we had [worn during the robbery] would be thrown away so there would be no forensic evidence. We always bought designer clothes – everything had a label.

‘Then it would be off to the pub for a bit of dinner. By 6pm we’d start taking the cocaine and then go out. We wouldn’t be back until Monday morning, and would easily spend £3,000 on drink and drugs over the weekend. Sometimes we would do two robberies a week.’

In 2012 Bradish was released from prison and raided four banks across London between April and September 2012.  In each raid he brandished an imitation gun and left each bank with over £40,000.

The third life sentences

On 14th February 2014 at the Old Bailey, Bradish pleaded guilty to six robberies, one attempted robbery, and seven counts of possession of an imitation firearm with intent.  Judge Nicholas Cooke QC adjourned sentence until February 20, but warned Bradish that he will receive an automatic life sentence.  See the Evening Standard news report for more details.

Sentencing comments courtesy of Westlaw

interview quotations courtesy of The Observer

Life Sentences III (automatic)

Automatic life

The history of sentencing over the last 15 years has not been a happy one.

Chronology

  • 1st October 1997-29th September 1998 (24th August 2000) – s1 Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 (with minor amendments of no real consequence in Crime and Disorder Act 1998 from 30th September 1998)
  • 25th August 2000-3rd April 2005 – s109 Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000
  • 4th April 2005 – 13th July 2008 – s225 (etc) Criminal Justice Act 2003
  • 14th July 2008 – 3rd December 2012 – s13 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008

Apart from the 2008 changes, the relevant date was the date of the offence. For offences sentence post 14th July 2008, but committed and any time between 4th April 2005 and 3rd December, the 2003 provisions (as amended) apply.

The legislation (s122 LASPO)

The new legislation came into force on 3rd December and has some similarities to the ‘old’ two strikes and you’re out. The main difference relates to the qualifying conditions and, whisper it, Chris Grayling (well, Ken Clarke) is softer than Labour.  Under the new law, there’s a requirement that both the first sentence attracted, and the second would otherwise attract, a 10 year sentence (or equivalent extended/life sentence, but NOT IPP), so far fewer people will be caught by it (although whether Grayling will try and reduce this remains to be seen – I wouldn’t be surprised).

The list of offences (Sch 18 LASPO – introducing a new CJA 2003 Sch 15B ) that this applies to is basically the same (there’s more sexual offences from the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and terrorism offences). Indecent photographs of children under s1 Protection of Children Act 1978 is the only old offence that is added, although this is really symbolic as the maximum sentence is 10 years so, unless the maximum sentence is passed, this is unlikely to ever be relevant (as is the case with ss 1112 and 15 Sexual Offences Act 2003 that are also among the offences listed).

Are the old authorities relevant?

The old case law on what amount to exceptional circumstances etc are unlikely to be resurrected.

Much of the old arguments centred around the question of the compatibility of the legislation under Art 3 (whether of itself, or in the particular circumstances of the case). It’s unlikely there will be any real issues given the conditions are much tighter –the requirement of a previous 10 year sentence means that there has to be a history of fairly heavy criminality. That, coupled with the requirement of a sentence of at least 10 years for the new offence, means that it won’t be that many people that this applies to. Also, the ‘exceptional circumstances’ exception is drawn wide enough that where there would be a genuine injustice, a life sentence need not be passed.

But it may be time to brush off cases such as Offen …