Jeffrey Goodwyn freed after unlawful sentence passed

Jeffrey Goodwyn freed after unlawful sentence passed

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Introduction

In 2012 Jeffrey Goodwyn, a seemingly unrepentant and dangerous paedophile (with a previous conviction for rape of a child), was sentenced to IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) for an offence of indecent assault that had occurred sometime before May 2004. Spot the problem? The Judge didn’t.

On 9th December 2014, the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence of IPP, replacing it with an Extended Sentence of 3 years, plus a 5 year extension period. This meant that because of the amount of time that he has spent in custody, Mr Goodwyn was released from Court.

 

Why did the Court do that – surely he’s too dangerous to be released?

Because they had no choice – the sentence passed was unlawful. Basically, IPPs were introduced in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and first became lawful on 4th April 2005. Therefore, such a sentence can only be passed if the offence occurred after that date. It is a basic rule of law that you cannot be sentenced for something that wasn’t an offence at the time that it was committed, or to a sentence that was not lawful at the time.

For that reason, the Judge was not allowed to pass a sentence, it would be similar to passing a sentence of death, it simply was not an available sentence. Whilst this may seem that Mr Goodwyn ‘got away with’ something here on a technicality, when you think about it, it’s obviously right that the Court had to intervene – if the Courts don’t stick to the law, why should anyone else?

 

What was the sentence?

We don’t know the original sentence, but we imagine the Judge felt that the offence (of which there are no real details) merited 3 years in prison, hence the tariff for the IPP was set at 18 months.

The Court clearly thought that Mr Goodwyn met the test for dangerousness, and therefore imposed an Extended Sentence. The amount of time that he had to serve under the Extended Sentence was longer than the minimum period of time that he would have had to serve under the IPP, but the reality is that with an IPP sentence, he would not have been released anytime soon.

 

How did this happen?

In short, we don’t know. It may be that there are facts that we don’t know, but it is surprising if a Judge and both lawyers missed the fact that the sentence was unlawful.

In this day and age of what appears to be a state of permanent revolution when it comes to sentencing, it is actually relatively easy for something to be missed in the sentencing process. It is rare for it to go so wrong that the whole of a sentence is unlawful. As said though, we don’t know the circumstances of the case, or the full facts, so there’s not too much we can say about this now.

We would say that it took a surprisingly long time to come to the Court of Appeal – 2½ years is far too long, which would suggest that the error was not picked up into much further down the line however.

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

7 COMMENTS

  1. The net result is the Court of Appeal turned a dangerous sex offender, who even according to his own counsel, showed no signs of remorse/reformation, loose onto our streets. How can this be right and why doesn’t someone challenge it. What a crazy world we live in.

    • It’s right because there was no power to do otherwise. And that’s why it can’t be challenged. Basically the same as if the Judge had passed a death sentence on him – it’s simply not a sentence he had the power to impose.

      He is on licence for another five years or so and can be re-called to prison if Probation have any concerns as to his behaviour.

  2. The Court of Appeal acted precisely according to law. It’s not the role of that court to moralise. Had the Court of Appeal not quashed the offender’s unlawful sentence, then it too would have been acting without lawful authority.

    Cases like this do stir emotions but judgment without emotion is what makes our legal system objective in its aims, as it should be if the law is to be applied fairly and consistently.

  3. All well and good unless it’s your child who is on the receiving end of the results of “justice” being done. Cases like this should stir up emotions we’re human beings not machines how else are laws made if not by human thoughts and feelings about right and wrong.

    • Completely agree. But being part of civilisation means that we resist the urges to dish out lynch mob justice.

  4. Am I right on wrong that revocation of his licence (apologies lack of legalese) would depend on his doing something to infringe it like assault/sexual assault?

    • I’m trying to avoid legalese but when someone is released from prison ‘on licence’ or on parole, they are supervised by an Offender Manager. On release, they will be given a copy of their licence with all the conditions they need to adhere to. If they do not keep to the conditions of their license then they could be recalled and brought back to prison.

      A person can be recalled if:
      ◾they commit another crime or are charged with another crime or,
      ◾they are behaving in a way that leads their Offender Manager to think they might be about to commit another crime. For example, if they start drinking heavily and often get violent when they are drunk or,
      ◾they break the conditions of their licence.

      If someone is to be recalled to prison for breaching their licence then the police will arrest them and take them back to prison. Their licence will be revoked meaning that their licence to live in the community has been taken from them and they must be returned to prison.

      The length of time a prisoner who has been recalled will have to serve in prison depends on the type of recall they are subject to. There are three different types of recall:
      ◾Fixed term recall. For a fixed period of 28 days. Prisoners are eligible for this unless they are serving a sentence for a violent or a sexual offence, they are serving an extended sentence, they have been recalled before on the same sentence or they were recalled before their automatic release date having being released early under the Home Detention Curfew scheme or compassionate grounds.
      ◾Standard recall. This applies to prisoners not eligible for a fixed recall because they are serving a sentence for a violent or a sexual offence, they are serving an extended sentence or because it is felt they are too much of a risk to be eligible for a fixed term recall. This type of recall can result in the prisoner remaining in custody until the end of their sentence or until the parole board deems them suitable for release.
      ◾Emergency recall. When a prisoner is eligible for standard recall but their risk of harm or risk of reoffending is deemed too serious to warrant release.

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