Kirstin Beswick and Steve Nikolich Success in the Court of Appeal

Burglary – Appeal – Guidelines – Manifestly Excessive – Sentencing – Credit

Miss Beswick and Mr Nikolich were recently involved the appeal against sentence of Mr C and Mr B.

Mr C and Mr B had received sentences amounting to six years after trial for a professional and well-planned burglary but Miss Beswick and Mr Nikolich successfully argued that the guidelines were sufficient to deal with the complexities of the case.  The judge therefore, in passing a sentence outside of the guidelines, imposed a sentence that was manifestly excessive.

The two men were part of a group of four who pleaded guilty to crossing the Pennines in February last year, equipped with masks, sledgehammers and crowbars. The vehicles in which they were travelling were stolen. 

They orchestrated a well-planned attack on the Co-op supermarket in Hebden Bridge. They used the sledgehammer to smash the large plate window at the front of the store and broke into the cigarette safe.  The value of the goods taken and the consequential loss was significant.

Passers-by saw the incident and were concerned.  The police helicopter was called and after a long chase involving dangerous driving, all 4 men were arrested.

All of the group had extensive previous convictions including a history of burglary and other dishonesty offences. They were described by the court at first instance and the appeal court as hardened criminals. 

This was a category one burglary with multiple culpability elements but the Court of Appeal was persuaded that, although very serious, the elements did not amount to an offence at the very top of guidelines.  Their Lordships agreed with Miss Beswick and Mr Nikolich that, even after consideration of the records of the offenders, the sentence ought to have fallen within the range for a category one. 

The Court of Appeal determined that the right sentence after a trial would be one of four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. The appellants were entitled to full credit.  The sentence of four years was quashed and a sentence of three years substituted.

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