HMA v LR And DM
Co-accused LR and DM are two teenagers who have now had their appeal against their sentences rejected. LR pled guilty to acting in a threatening and abusive manner while DM pled guilty to an assault charge at Dumbarton Sheriff Court.
LR was only 17 and had no previous convictions. DM pled to a more serious charge but was only 15 years old, he had a pattern of offending but this was previously dealt with by the children’s panel. Both teenagers were sentenced to prison terms and they appealed against their sentences on the basis that the Sheriff did not take in to account their young age when imposing their sentence. However, the appeal court ruled that although the age of an offender is important this did not at all mean that they would get away “scot-free”.
The defence team argued on behalf of LR that his age and difficult upbringing was not considered when the Sheriff sentenced him. Additionally, section 207 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 stated that young teenage offenders “should be treated differently from an adult offender.” This was applied in recent case law to state that the sentence should go on to promote the growth of a healthy adult.
Lord Menzies said in concluding the appeal: “Clearly the age of a young offender is an important factor to which a sentencer must have regard and, as in any case, a sentencer must have regard to factors such as a deprived or difficult upbringing.
It does not appear to us that the sheriff in either of these two appellants has failed to have regard to their young age nor has he failed to have regard to the difficulties that they have experienced in their young lives.” It was concluded that the Sheriff had not erred due to the fact that the age and other circumstances of the accused had been taken in to consideration on relation to sentencing and therefore the appeal was refused.