Sharon Lyndsay

Sharon Lyndsay

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Lyndsay pleaded to section 18 wounding and theft. Mr Marsden pleaded to ABH.

Facts

Mr Sheehy who suffered from epilepsy, met Lyndsay and her friend, Mr Marsden, whilst out drinking.

Lyndsay claimed that Mr Sheehy had made unwanted sexual advances. In fact, the court heard that Lyndsay had invited Mr Sheehy back to Mr Marsden’s house. In an unprovoked attack, Marsden punched Mr Sheehy in the head, climbed on top of him to ‘ram a pen in his ear’.  Lyndsay, an observer to this point, then took over the assault before stealing £180 from Mr Sheehy’s pockets.

It was reported that Lyndsay stubbed out a lit cigarette on the eyes and face of Mr Sheehy, pulled down his trousers and boxer shorts and then systematically burnt the top of his thighs and groin with a hot iron while he “screamed for mercy”.

Mr Sheehy suffered extreme pain for a number of days and the trauma worsened his epilepsy. He was embarrassed to wear shorts in public due to the marks on his legs.

Previous convictions

Lyndsay had a history of dishonesty offences, including burglary and theft.

Marsden had a ‘lengthy record of violence’ and was subject to a Suspended Sentence Order imposed 3 weeks prior to this offence.

Judge’s remarks

“This was a nasty example of bullying and humiliation of someone who was overwhelmed because he was intoxicated and outnumbered.

It was a sustained and repeated assault of a vulnerable victim”.

Sentence

Marsden received 20 months, with a discount for his plea. In addition, 3 months as he was subject to a suspended sentence.

Lyndsay received 6½ years, with a discount for her plea. In addition, there was a concurrent sentence of 6 months imposed for theft.

Guidelines

Click here to see an explanation of how the guidelines work.

Click here to see a criticism of the guidelines.

Section 18 wounding: It would appear that the Judge placed the offence at the top of Category 2, i.e. Greater harm and lower culpability or Lesser harm and higher culpability. The starting point is 6 years with a range of 5-9 years.

Mitigating factors may have been: a) she demonstrated remorse.

Aggravating factors may have been: a) her previous convictions, b) the victim was vulnerable, c) he was lured back to the house for the purposes of the theft/assault d) leading role in the attack, e) the victim was intoxicated, f) the serious injuries caused to the victim, g) items used to inflict serious injuries, h) the effect the attack had on the victim, i) the humiliation of the victim.

Starting at 6 years, the Judge will have added an uplift for the number of aggravating factors, notably the serious injuries, causing the victim to scream in pain, inflicted with an iron and a cigarette. The aggravating features take the offence toward the top of Category 2, which is 9 years. With a 1/3 discount for the plea, a sentence of 6½ years is very much in the range of sentences available for this type of offence.

Click here to see the wounding guideline (page 3).

ABH: It would appear that the Judge placed Marsden’s offence between Category 1, i.e. Greater harm and higher culpability, and Category 2 i.e. Greater harm and lower culpability or Lesser harm and higher culpability. The Category 1 starting point is 18 months, and Category 2 starting point is 26 weeks, after a trial of a person of good character. Consequently, the Judge would need to make an adjustment to take into account the particular factors of Marsden’s case.

Mitigating factors may be: a) his involvement was a single blow, b) he demonstrated remorse.

Aggravating factors may be: a) his previous convictions, b) the victim was vulnerable, c) he was lured back to the house for the purposes of the theft/assault d) subject to a Suspended Sentence Order imposed 3 weeks prior to the offence, e) the victim was intoxicated, f) the injuries caused by Lyndsay which Marsden did not prevent, g) the serious injuries caused to the victim.

Starting at 6 months, the Judge will have added an uplift to take into account the aggravating factors. Given the serious injuries, the premeditation, the fact that the victim was vulnerable and his record, a sentence of around 12 months is not beyond the expected sentence. With a discount for the plea, 6 months is not excessive.

Concurrent sentences:

In short, the principle of totality requires that a court sentencing for more than one offence must ensure that the eventual sentence reflects all the criminality. Whether the court arrives at the sentence by reducing the individual sentences and adding them together (consecutive sentences) or whether there is a ‘main’ sentence for the most serious offence which reflects the less serious offences (concurrent sentences) the end result should be the same.

Further, concurrent sentences will usually be appropriate where the offences arise out of the same incident. Here, the theft and the ABH/wounding were all part of the same incident in that they were committed at the same time in the same sequence of events.

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Lyndon is the General Editor of Current Sentencing Practice and the Criminal Appeal Reports (Sentencing)

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