We successfully appealed against the sentence imposed for a client where the Judge departed from the agreed Basis of Plea between the Defence and Prosecution. It’s always great to see one of our cases reported and cited on Andrew Keoh’s Crimeline site!
The appellant was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment for conspiracy to make a false instrument having withdrawn an application to vacate his plea. The Belgian police had notified their UK counterparts of the appellant who appeared to be connected to an identity card factory in Belgium. His admitted involvement was to pass on photos and other information that would be used for the purposes of creating the fraudulent documents, notably he had a previous conviction for forging a document on 2005 and was found to have a different identity in Belgium. In passing sentence, he was referred to by the judge as an agent for those in Belgium rather than a go between.
It was argued on his behalf that the sentence was manifestly excessive as the judge departed from the agreed basis of plea that he understood the identity cards would be “used by people in order to obtain employment and/or travelling purposes but nothing beyond this.” The Court of Appeal had sympathy with the submission that the judge was influenced by the terrorism connection with the wider conspiracy. Although it was open to the judge not to accept the basis, he should have put the parties on notice and given the defendant an opportunity to give evidence in that situation.
Held: the appropriate sentence after trial would have been 4 years, the sentence was quashed and reduced to 3 years and 2 months. 20% credit was given for the plea as although he had pleaded guilty at PTPH he then sought to vacate that plea, later withdrawing the application.