Criminal Law: Breach of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order by a Personality Disordered Defendant Regina -v- McGhie [2012] EWCA Crim 1999

In 2002 the Appellant was made the subject of an indefinite Anti-Social Behaviour Order because of his attempts to entice and make contact with young girls through allowing bank notes to hang from his pockets and using bank notes to attract the attention of young girls on buses, as well as following girls from bus stops to their homes.

In March 2012 the Appellant pleaded guilty to two offences of breach of the Anti-Social Behaviour Order. He was subsequently sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment on each count concurrent. The Appellant appealed against that sentence with the leave of the single Judge.

There had been nine previous convictions for 15 offences of breach of the Anti-Social Behaviour Order. The Appellant had been diagnosed with a personality disorder. The sentencing Judge acknowledged that the Appellant needed help but that identifying precisely what would be effective had so far proved elusive. The sentencing exercise was complicated further by the fact that two experts had opined that it was “probably unrealistic” to suppose that the path to the eventual resolution of the Defendant’s problems, if ever it was to occur, would be incident free.

The appeal against sentence was allowed to the extent that the sentence was reduced to 24 months’ imprisonment. The Court of Appeal explained that it was difficult to compartmentalise the case in any way which conveniently fitted within the guidelines. It was an unusual case on any view and there was a question where what drives the offending is a psychologically-based compulsive personality disorder as to the extent to which the breaches should be looked upon as deliberate. However, given the overall history of the case and bearing in mind that there had been hints of improvement in more recent times, the Court of Appeal was persuaded that the starting point was too high, difficult though evaluating the appropriate starting point in this case was.