Criminal Law: Guidance on the Approach to Mitigation of Offending Under Pressure to Discharge a Drug Debt Regina -v- Mullally [2012] EWCA Crim 687

In dismissing an appeal against sentence the Court of Appeal provided guidance to sentencing Judges faced with the mitigation that an individual, through drug addiction, accumulated a debt to another and committed the index offence under pressure to discharge the debt in question

The author of the Pre-Sentence Report noted that the Appellant described he had been drawn into this offending because he had had a build-up of debt to those who had been supplying him with drugs. He was then approached by two others with a plan for the robbery. It was a targeted robbery on this property. He was forced, he said, or put under pressure, to go along with the suggestion as a means of recouping some of the debt. He was remorseful. He recognised that he had ruined his own life. He did express empathy for the victim and he was expectant of a significant prison sentence.

Irwin J observed that increasingly the Court see that those who have allowed themselves through drug addiction to acquire a debt to criminals who supply controlled drugs and are thereafter brought under pressure to commit offences of one kind or another. Those who are in that position must realise that that kind of excuse cannot radically affect the sentence to be passed on them if they offend, particularly if they offend in such a way as this. Offences causing intrusion into homes, offences of robbery with violence to the individual, offences which are bound to affect in an important way other people, cannot be excused to any significant extent by the fact that the offender has permitted himself to fall into debt and chooses to pass on the pain in this kind of way.