Lawyers, like any other people, can get in trouble with the law, as we have noted on many occasions in the past.
One case that caught our eye (and was referred to us by several people) is that of Iain Farrimond. Mr Farrimond was a distinguished lawyer for the CPS, a Senior Crown Prosecutor, but who was sentenced to six years in prison on 30th September 2016 for Attempted Murder.
The 27th May 2016 was his and Tina Farrimond’s 28th wedding anniversary. In the months leading up to the attack, Mr Farrimond had been suffering from work-induced depression.
On the evening of 26th May, nothing appeared to be amiss to Ms Farrimond – they had a conversation about their wedding anniversary.
They went to bed, but it seemed that Mr Farrimond could not sleep. He had been “increasing feeling that he couldn’t cope at work and was worried he’d have to leave his job. His increased workload and the introduction of the digital case system (by the CPS), which he was struggling to cope with, led him to desperation” (there is some more detailed coverage here).
It seemed that he determined that the only way forward was to kill his wife and himself and, after penning a suicide note, he fetched a knife and stabbed his wife.
Mr Farrimond’s intention was to kill her quickly in her sleep, but she woke up after being stabbed. Ms Farrimond took the knife from him, at which point Mr Farrimond hit her with a large ornamental cat.
She escaped to the bathroom, at which point Mr Farrimond called 999 and stabbed himself.
Ms Farrimond suffered 5 stab wounds and a fractured eye socket, but fortunately seems to have made a ‘remarkably successful‘ recovery.
Mr Farrimond was sentenced to 6 years, which is a very short sentence for Attempted Murder. But was that a merciful sentence, or an unduly lenient one?
The starting point is the Sentencing Guidelines for Attempted Murder (although these are now very old in these times of ever-increasing prison sentences).
Looking at the table at page 7, it would appear to be a Category 3 offence – although there may have been a period of time where Mr Farrimond was brooding over it, it would appear to have been a spontaneous attack.
Even so, there was clearly ‘some physical or psychological harm’, giving a starting point of 12 years and a range of 9-17 years.
Unsurprisingly given Mr Farrimond’s profession, he was of good character -not just in the sense of having no convictions, but there was a lot of good that can be said about him.
Importantly, there was no history of domestic violence. Further, Ms Farrimond spoke up in favour of her husband – she said that he “had been “the perfect husband” and was “the most loving, caring person I know”.
Further, “I love him very much. I want him to receive the medical treatment he needs” … “All I want is for us to be a family again.
“Iain needs to get better and I will help with this in any way I can … I just want my husband to come home“.
The background of depressive illness is also mitigation. And there was a plea of guilty, with an admission at the scene. Although the view is often taken by the Courts and CPS that someone can plead guilty the first time that they are in Court, in a case like this is was clearly necessary to have some investigation of his mental health, and so it is likely that he would have received full credit.
Looking at it like that, it is easy to see why a sentence at the bottom of the bracket (say 9 years) was chosen, before being discounted to 6 years for a plea of guilty.
Although sentences have gone up since 2009 quite a lot, it is hard to see that the sentence passed here could be described as ‘unduly lenient’. As a sentence passed on a lawyer, it will attract attention from the authorities to ensure that he is not getting special treatment (in fact, lawyers tend to get a higher sentence if anything). We wouldn’t think it will get very far. It seems a fair sentence in a very difficult case.