Richard Dawson successfully resists Prosecution Appeal in death by dangerous driving case

Glenn Wall was convicted by the jury, by 11:1 majority, in December 2017, of causing death by dangerous driving.  He was sentenced in January 2018 to 2 years’ imprisonment.

The Prosecution, through the Solicitor General, made application to the Court of Appeal that the sentence was unduly lenient.  They sought to argue that insufficient regard had been had to the aggravating features in the case, so that the sentence starting point was too low; and that too much weight had been attached to the mitigating features of the case, so that the final sentence imposed was too low.

Richard was instructed, by Martin English on behalf of Weightmans Solicitors, to defend Glenn Wall on the Attorney General’s Reference.

The Prosecution success rate on Attorney General’s References is in the order of about 90%. On this occasion however, Richard successfully resisted the application and the Court of Appeal were persuaded that it would be inappropriate to interfere with the sentence. Accordingly, the sentence was not increased. The original sentence of 2 years’ imprisonment stands.

On behalf of Glenn Wall, Richard argued that the Solicitor General had erred in his analysis of the sentencing exercise which had been undertaken; the application was misguided; and the sentence was not unduly lenient.  The erroneous analysis of the case by the Solicitor General failed to appreciate that this was not a clear cut case of dangerous driving.  The aggravating features relied on by the Solicitor General were not aggravating features as normally recognised.  Individually, none of themselves amounted to dangerous driving.  It was only in their collective totality that the overall standard of driving could be said to have fallen a long way below the standard to be expected of the competent, careful driver.  The Trial Judge was best placed to determine the true culpability of the offender.  Likewise, he was best placed to judge the appropriate final sentence, in light of the relevant mitigating factors

The Court agreed that the Trial Judge was best placed to determine the weight to be attached to the various factors.  He had presided over the trial and had carefully set out his decision.  He had rightly considered the guidelines and was correct in his assessment that this was Level 3 on the guidelines.  There was considerable and powerful mitigation.  This was not an unduly lenient sentence.

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