Court of Appeal quashes life sentence and substitutes hospital order

15 Nov 2012

Yesterday, 14th November 2011, the Court of Appeal quashed a sentence of life imprisonment in the case of X and substituted a hospital order under section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983, with a restriction order under section 41. This Appeal was the result of a successful Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) referral as the case had been considered before by the Court of Appeal many years ago.

This decision brought to an end a long running process by which the legal team sought the appropriate sentence for a very vulnerable female client. To reach this point (because her case had been considered before by the Court of Appeal, many years ago), they had to convince the CCRC that the case met their criteria for a referral to the Court. The psychiatric evidence was very complicated and because of this and various other issues, it took the CCRC some time to refer the case.

The decision to substitute a hospital order will mean that: X will no longer face the risk of being returned to prison; she will have a far more straightforward route to release in due course; restrictions post release will be subject to review and will not be life long (as they would otherwise be); any recall will be to hospital rather than prison; and she will be able to claim appropriate benefits (something that is not open to a transferred prisoner).

Garden Court North Chambers’ Pete Weatherby QC represented X in the Court of Appeal, instructed by Michael Kennedy of Switalskis Solicitors.

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