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.
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.