On 15th August 2013 Jeffrey Davies, a (soon to be if he isn’t already) former policeman, was jailed for three years after having been convicted of two charges of sexually assaulting women who he had met through his job as a Family Liaison Officer for victims of domestic violence.
He had tried to persuade both his victims to have consensual sex with him, but both declined. The assaults were rubbing the leg of the first victim in a sexual manner and grabbing the second victim’s hand and pushing it against his groin.
There are sentencing guidelines for this offence. As is often the case, it does not fit easily into one category. The first one is clear – it is the lowest category (see page 32 – contact between part of the offender’s body and the victim’s, not involving genitalia). For this, the starting point is a non-custodial sentence.
The second case seems more serious and is harder to put in the sentencing guidelines. We would suggest that it falls right at the very bottom of the second category and would attract a sentence of about 4-6 months in prison.
For a ‘normal’ offender, it is hard to see that they would get a sentence of more than 6 months for both offences together. In most cases, particularly with someone who has not been in trouble before, the sentence would be suspended. Why then, assuming the press reports of the offences were accurate, did Mr Davies get so much more?
As a police officer, he would not have any previous convictions. But it is his profession that holds the key to it. These offences were massive breach of trust. Any police officer who commits a criminal offence is liable to be treated harshly by the courts, but given that these offences occurred while he was at work, and whilst he was specifically tasked with looking after the victims of crime, he could have expected a much longer sentence to reflect this.
Whether it merits such a huge uplift is a different matter. There will undoubtedly be an appeal against the sentence (and probably the conviction) where the Court of Appeal will have to judge whether the increase on his sentence is merited. It seems, to me at least, that it wasn’t and a sentence of about 12 months would have been sufficient. Time will tell whether the Court of Appeal take the same view … what would you say if you were in the Court of Appeal?