We covered the case of Sarah Sands when she was convicted of Manslaughter in July 2015. She was sentenced to 3½ years for stabbing Michael Pleasted, a neighbourhood paedophile, eight times and leaving him to bleed to death.
She had denied murder, but accepted manslaughter on the basis of loss of control. The jury accepted this, acquitting her of murder. The Judge reduced the sentence from 7 years to take account of the admission of guilt and other mitigation.
At the time we did a piece asking “3 1/2 years for manslaughter – will the AG step in?” To this, we gave the answer a clear ‘yes’ – “The sentence in this case appears to be unduly lenient.”
We have a piece about AG References and how they work here. In this case, over 30 people contacted the AG to complain about the sentence, and asking for it to be appealed.
This happened, and on 22nd January 2016 the Court of Appeal agreed, and increased the sentence to 7½ years – a huge increase.
The reason for this was the fact that Ms Sands took the knife to the victim’s house meant that the case was much more serious than the Judge had thought.
The BBC reported that the Judges felt the appropriate starting point was 10 years. Presumably this was before credit for a plea of guilty, and so they felt that the sentence merited 15 years.
Although we thought that the original sentence appeared to be unduly lenient, this is a very large increase. Even allowing for the fact that ‘double jeopardy’ has gone out of fashion, it is surprising to see the sentence more than double. We would have thought than an increase to something in the region of 5-6 years would have been more likely.
But, there is no way for Ms Sands to appeal this sentence, so an extra two years in prison she will serve.