Chris Harper, instructed by David Butcher and Waqar Ali of Bennett & Co. Solicitors, appeared in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) to represent Phean Mayne (Mayne 2021 [EWCA] Crim 737). Mr Mayne appealed against a sentence of 34 months’ imprisonment imposed on him at Northampton Crown Court for breach of a Sexual Risk Order. The Court of Appeal upheld the appeal and imposed a sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment instead.

Chris Harper represented Mr Mayne at trial but had professional commitments such that he could not be present for the sentencing hearing. Having considered the reasons given by the judge, Chris drafted a number of grounds of appeal, arguing that the approach taken by the sentencing judge was incorrect resulting in a manifestly excessive sentence.

The Court of Appeal upheld the appeal on the grounds that the judge had directly applied the guideline for Breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, that he had taken a starting point inconsistent with his remarks in sentencing, and that the harm was not the very (original emphasis) serious harm required to justify the approach of the sentencing judge. The sentence was deemed manifestly excessive and reduced by almost half.

In comments which may well assist any defendants facing restrictive conditions drafted as part of a Sexual Risk Order, Bean, LJ was highly critical of the content of the order Mr Mayne was found to have breached, and the procedure followed to impose it.