Yasmin Thomas, 21, was given a 12 month custodial sentence, suspended for 2 years with 80 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm. She was also ordered to pay £1000 in compensation to the victim and a £100 victim surcharge.
The Mail reported that “Thomas’s friend had snatched [an e-cigarette] from a friend of [the victim], and had thrown it on the floor.
Thomas then picked it up and thrust the device at [the victim], demanding: ‘Are you not going to say thank you? Who do you think you are?’
She then lunged towards [the victim] with a broken glass, causing a serious gash to his left eyelid and two smaller cuts to his face.”
The victim needed stitches on his eye socket and small shards of glass to be removed from his eye. It was feared he had also suffered a fractured eye socket and more serious damage to his sight, though fortunately this was not the case.
The Mail report states that Thomas attacked her victim with a broken glass, although it is unclear whether she a) broke the glass with the intention of striking the victim with it, b) picked up a glass that was already broken or c) had in her hand a glass that was already broken.
The Mail reported that her representative said “Thomas had been diagnosed with an emotionally unstable personality disorder and had struggled to manage her temper from childhood.
She said she had sought help from mental health services prior to committing this offence and was waiting to undergo cognitive analytical therapy.”
This was Thomas’ 18th conviction for violence. It is not known whether she had previously received a custodial sentence. Her last offence was reportedly in 2010.
‘You have a breathtaking record of violence, one of the worst I have ever seen from anyone your age.
‘It is not without a lot of hesitation and some reservations, I must confess, that I’m going to suspend that 12 month sentence for two years.’
‘Any offence at all will be sent back to this court and you will go straight down those steps to prison for at least 12 months.’
The relevant guidelines are the Assault guidelines.
I would say that injury is serious in the context of the offence – constituting a finding of ‘greater harm’ for the purposes of the guideline. Additionally, the use of the broken glass as a weapon demonstrates higher culpability and therefore this would be a category one offence with a starting point of 18 months. There are aggravating features such as the manifest previous convictions for similar offences (although we don’t know if they involved the use of a weapon) and the fact that Thomas had (presumably) consumed a great degree of alcohol. In mitigation, as the Mail report highlighted, there are some mental health issues, namely a personality disorder and the fact that she is ‘attempting to turn her life around’ and had sought help prior to committing the offence. Her age may also have provided some mitigation though in my view, it doesn’t carry much weight. After taking account of the aggravating and mitigating factors, I would have placed the sentence at 20-24 months (the previous convictions outweighing any personal mitigation).
With full credit (we assume) for a guilty plea, that would be reduced to somewhere between 13 and 16 months.
However, it is important to note that I am basing my assessment of a recital of the facts in the Mail and the judge will have had much more information and heard submissions from counsel. Therefore, I cannot say that my assessment is right and the judge’s (see below) is wrong.
The judge’s view
We dont know how the judge approached the guidelines, but we know that he settled on a sentence of 12 months, meaning that before credit for the plea, he must have arrived at a sentence of about 18 months. That is definitely within the guidelines.
The judge then decided to suspend the sentence. The Mail report gives few clues as to the reasoning behind that decision however we can assume it is on the basis of her personality disroder, anger management issues and the fact that this is likely to be her “last chance”.
The Mail reported that comments online had included: ‘So what do you actually have to do to go to prison these days?’ and ‘It’s barbaric that she has avoided jail.
Of course, if Thomas does not reoffend (because she has received help for her personality disorder and anger management issues, then this sentence is a success and the decision to suspend her sentence is the right one. If not, she will undoubtedly go to prison if she commits another similar offence of violence.
Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East reportedly said: ‘I am particularly concerned that the judge mentioned that he suspended [Thomas’s] sentence with ‘a lot of hesitation and some reservations. He was clearly troubled by her record.’
‘This is now the third case of this nature that I have seen in Bournemouth in recent months. So I will now be seeking a meeting with the Attorney General to discuss these particular cases and to ask whether changes to the law are necessary to ensure that cases of this kind do not occur again.’
The suggestion appears to be a measure to ensure such cases cannot receive suspended sentences. Let’s hope the new AG, Jeremey Wright, is not taken in by Mr Ellwood’s stupidity.