Court of Appeal Quashes Perverting the Course of Justice Sentence

Pragma Law has successfully appealed against a sentence of imprisonment imposed by York Crown Court. A motorist, Mr Burke, was previously sent to prison for using a laser jammer fitted to his vehicle to avoid being caught for speeding.

Perverting the course of justice is a very serious offence. This offence can only be dealt with at the Crown Court and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

Perverting the course of justice occurs if a person:

  • acts or embarks upon a course of conduct,
  • which has a tendency to, and
  • is intended to pervert,
  • the course of public justice.

The course of justice includes a police investigation of a possible crime.  Any act which interferes with an investigation or causes it to head in the wrong direction may tend to pervert the course of justice.

If you name the wrong driver of an alleged motoring offence, this will tend to pervert the course of justice. Allowing someone else to take penalty points or taking someone else’s points is a serious matter. Few people realise that this can result in a charge of perverting the course of justice. The issue will then be whether you intended to give incorrect information. It is for the police to prove that you knowingly gave incorrect information.

In this case, Mr Burke had not taken someone else’s points. He had used a laser jammer on his vehicle which, the police say was to avoid detection while he was speeding. Mr Burke was represented by different solicitors in the Crown Court, where the Judge imposed an immediate two-month custodial sentence. However, the Court of Appeal decided that the sentence should have been suspended.

Court Of Appeal Quashes Perverting The Course Of Justice Sentence

A case with very similar facts had been decided by the same Crown Court Judge only months before this one. That sentence was also quashed by the Court of Appeal, and the Crown Court Judge was aware of the outcome.

However, he again decided that he would still impose an immediate custodial sentence despite the clear guidance that it was not appropriate in the circumstances.

We are delighted that Mr Burke was released from prison the same day as the Court of Appeal made its decision. Had he not appealed, he would have faced another three weeks behind bars. It is a shame that he had to spend seven nights in prison when he should not have spent any.

Pragma law instructed motoring barrister Andrew Thompson to represent Mr Burke at the Court of Appeal.

If you are under investigation for perverting the course of justice or have been invited to attend a voluntary police interview, get in touch with us straight away.

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