Armstrong v HM Advocate

A man who was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to attempting to obtain money by fraud has had his custodial term reduced following an appeal. The Sheriff Appeal Court ruled that the sheriff erred in law by failing to apply a s196 discount.

Mr Armstrong was sentenced to seven months imprisonment in respect of each of two charges. The sentences were imposed following pleas of guilty. The appellant took no issue length of the sentence or the fact that it was a consecutive sentence but the ground of appeal was based on the fact that the sheriff erred by allowing no discount for his guilty pleas.

The sheriff stated that he did consider a discount but also considered the history of the case did including his failure to appear and warrant in previous occasions. He observed that it could not be said that the appellant had cooperated fully in the prosecution process.

The appeal sheriffs ruled that there was “significant utilitarian value” in the plea, and therefore quashed the sentence imposed and reduced the imprisonment term by a fifth. Sheriff Braid said: “We acknowledge that the sheriff had a wide discretion available to him” and “Much will depend on the nature of the case” at hand.