David Tremain represented a shoplifter who had been sentenced to 20 months for two shop thefts and three breaches of a Criminal Behaviour Order against a backdrop of a long record for similar offending. The question on appeal was whether repeated instances of low-value shoplifting demonstrated ‘a continuing risk of serious criminal behaviour’ justifying the 24-month starting point.
David argued that absent special factors such as repeat targeting of a small business, shoplifting could never be defined as ‘serious criminal behaviour’, and that therefore the breaches of the order could not be Category 1. A distinction was made between culpability, which increases each time an offence is committed, and harm, which may not unless the repeated nature of the offending compounds the harm; in the case of relatively low-value thefts from large chain stores, this could not be said to be the case.
The Court of Appeal, comprising Lord Justice Lewis, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb and His Honour Judge Thomas KC, agreed that the breaches were not properly categorised as Category 1, and reduced the overall sentence to one of 16 months. In its judgment, the Court praised David’s “careful and impressive submissions.”
David was instructed by Caroline Woodley of OBW Law Solicitors.