R v Sandra Clarke [2015] EWCA Crim 2234

4th December 2015

Jason Elliott successfully appealed against the sentence imposed on a getaway driver who had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob. Her co-accused had been under police surveillance for some time. Extensive preparations had been made with a view to robbing a cash in transit van. Firearms and ammunition were carried in the course of the robbery. The appellant’s role was limited to the provision of logistical support and helping with transport to and from the scene. She had taken part in the reconnaissance of various locations and her presence had been noted as part of the surveillance operation.

The appellant was of previous good character. She pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to rob, possession of cocaine, possession of amphetamine and possession of methamphetamine. She was sentenced to 7 years’ in relation to the conspiracy and concurrent sentences in relation to the drugs offences. Her co-defendants received sentences of 14 ½ years and 12 years respectively. One of them had been afforded 20% credit. This was in the face of an earlier ruling to the effect that full credit would be preserved in the event of a guilty plea.

The approach of the Court of Appeal was that –

“…In passing sentence upon her, the judge noted her previous good character and the support from her family. She had played an integral role in the conspiracy, but her starting point was very different because, as was clear from her accepted basis of plea, she was not aware that firearms formed part of the agreement to rob. The judge also had regard to her clear remorse and to the effect of her relationship with Claydon. The starting point in her case was 10 years. The judge applied the same discount of 20 per cent, which she had applied to all the three accused, and then said she would reduce her sentence by a further 12 months to reflect her good character. Hence the term of 7 years’ imprisonment imposed.”

It was argued on the appellant’s behalf that she had been allowed sufficient credit for her guilty plea and that –

“…If her 7 year term were left as it is, she too would have a justifiable sense of grievance if no adjustment were made in her case too. Given her lesser role and the accepted basis of plea, he submits that the judge clearly wished to distinguish her position from that of her co-accused and to reflect that in the sentences she imposed. For these reasons, Mr Elliott also submits that the reduction afforded to this appellant should be proportionately greater than the reduction afforded in Aitken’s case.”

 Her total sentence was reduced to 6 years’ imprisonment.



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