Undue lenience and a seriously cruel act
Law and Rights

Undue lenience and a seriously cruel act

One of the safety valves of the criminal process is that the Attorney-General may refer (under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 s36) sentences to the Court of Appeal if she considers them to be unduly lenient.  It is a most useful provision.  The case of Harpal Singh Moore is one where a sentence has been doubled.  He had applied (a number of times) a hot iron to his wife's face causing serious injury.  Hallett LJ described the offence as a "brutal, sustained act of cruelty."  The Court of Appeal considered that a sentence of 5 years imprisonment was right even though Harpal Singh Moore had been described as of "good character" and had no previous convictions for violence.  This increase of sentence is to be welcomed.  See the Attorney-General's website for details.

The present government has, rightly in my opinion, mounted a strong campaign to tackle the serious issue of domestic violence - see Home Office.  Specialist Domestic Violence Courts (SDVC) have been set up based on a number of existing Magistrates' Courts - see Ministry of Justice March 2009.  The approach taken to these cases is one involving several criminal justice agencies and is to be welcomed.  The message is that domestic violence will be taken seriously.

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