Neah Tuohy – outburst from the dock as she’s jailed for 12...

    Neah Tuohy – outburst from the dock as she’s jailed for 12 years

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    Photo from The Mirror

    Introduction

    This is one that’s flagged up from twitter. It’s about a 24 year old hairdresser from Chigwell in Essex called Neah Tuohy. On 17th March 2015 she had recently finished a period on licence for stabbing a man in the buttocks and was out for a night out.

    She and a friend were thrown out of a bar in Gants Hill following an argument with Lee Miller and his girlfriend. That should have been the end of it, but a fight ‘blew up’ between them outside by a taxi rank.

    The details from the news report are a bit hazy, but it seems that Mr Miller was knocked unconscious during this. Ms Tuohy then glassed him twice whilst he was lying on the floor, causing permanent scarring ‘by his left eyebrow and just below his chin’.

    She was charged with wounding with intent and had a trial, presumably saying either self-defence and/or no intent to cause serious injury. Either way, she was found guilty by the jury.

     

    Sentence

    On 16th May 2016 she was sentenced to 12 year imprisonment. What got this in the news, was her outburst from the dock afterwards.

    It seems she said “the system is fucked“, “People get less for killing people” and “He battered me. I’m not having it!“. The third was what the jury had to decide, and decided against her. Unfortunately for her, she has no choice but to ‘have it’.

    We can’t comment on the first thing she said, but the second is certainly not true. At least in the case of murder, you won’t find many people getting less than a 6 year tariff.

    What to make of the sentence? On the Guidelines, the Judge conclude that Mr Miller was ‘particularly vulnerable because of his personal circumstances’ – namely lying unconscious on the floor. It is hard to argue with this, which makes is a case of Greater Harm.

    As to culpability, the use of a glass would equate to use of a weapon ‘or weapon equivalent’ and so, in the absence of any mitigating factors, this is also a case of Higher Culpability. This makes it Category 1 offence.

    The starting point is 12 years. Here, there were some previous convictions, but the aggravating features are absorbed into the factors that take into a Category 1 offence.

    For that reason, the sentence is probably about what we’d expect.  We would not be surprised at all if there was an appeal (Ms Tuohy made her views clear for sure). On the Guidelines, the sentence was about right, albeit a very long one.

     

    What did she get for contempt?

    To be honest, although the ‘outburst’ should not have happened, and should certainly not be encouraged, it is not that unusual. For obvious reasons, people can get pretty upset when a verdict is announced, or a sentence passed.

    For that reason, most Judges will not take any action against someone who ‘lets off a bit of steam’. The Judge here is a sensible woman, and seemingly did the sensible thing of letting Ms Tuohy verbalise her annoyance without taking things any further.

    If things had carried on, or got out of hand, then it is likely that some action would have been taken, but it is often best just to ignore it when there’s a bit of shouting.

     

    Why did she have to pay costs?

    According to the Mirror, as well as getting 12 years, Mr Tuohy was ‘ordered to pay [a] £120 costs‘.

    What’s the point of ordering someone who is getting banged up till her thirties to pay costs? None. Here, we suspect that the paper got a bit confused. £120 is the exact amount of the Victim Surcharge that Ms Tuohy would have had to pay.

    We suspect that she was ordered to pay this (mandatory) charge, rather than costs which would be discretionary. If Ms Tuohy had any money, then the Judge would probably have ordered her to pay compensation rather than costs in any event.

     

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

    4 COMMENTS

    1. As bad as she sounds, it does seem a bit of a long sentence considering the ear guy could potentially be out of jail in less time than her (although obviously his extended sentence could well keep him in longer). I’m also curious what the difference is between GBH and wounding. Do they have different sentences typically?

    2. Oh, of course the ear guy pleaded guilty so got a third off, hence the two crimes basically got the same tariff. My mistake! That seems fair. I’m still curious that they’re defined as different crimes though.

    3. GBH means grevious bodily harm. Grevious is another word for serious. This amounts to serious injury short of death i.e loss of limb, significant brain damage etc.
      Wounding is essentially the breaking of the skin. Note that a wound will need to go through layers of skins and wouldn’t amount to a paper cut that we all get from time to time.
      The article suggests that the victim sustained cuts above his eye brow and in his chin. These wounds would not amount to serious harm.
      The sentences are the same, however on the guideline harm is usually reflected by being serious in the context of the offence. For a GBH offence, a wound will not usually be deemed to be serious in the context of a s.18 offence. You can imagine much more serious injury, such a brain damage, loss of a hand etc.
      The offence is commit if a wound was inflicted, but the offender INTENDED to cause serious injury i.e a stabbing where injury, fortuitously, is not serious but it was intended to be.

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