Sentencing for Offences of Perverting the Course of Justice in Motoring Cases: Regina -v- Walker [2015] EWCA Crim 1526

The Appellant and his mother each pleaded guilty to one offence of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The Appellant had been caught speeding by a camera and was sent a notice of intended prosecution. He already had penalty points on his driving licence and would have been liable to disqualification. The Appellant and his mother agreed that she would accept responsibility and say that she had been the driver. The Appellant’s mother had no penalty points on her driving licence. However, the Appellant and his mother had second thoughts and a few days later they attended the Police Station and confessed.

The Appellant was aged 45 and of previous good character and his mother was aged 71 and also of previous good character. The Appellant’s mother was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months, with an unpaid work requirement (180 hours) and ordered to pay £300.00 towards the costs of the Prosecution. The Appellant was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and he appealed against sentence with leave of the single Judge.

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal against sentence to the extent of reducing the length of the sentence from six months’ imprisonment to four months’ imprisonment. However, Foskett J rejected the submission that this was a case for a suspended sentence. As to that, it was held that it is rare for a suspended sentence to be made in such a case. Obviously in the case of the Appellant’s mother, for a lady of her age, it was an appropriate thing to do. But an immediate custodial sentence is ordinarily required in a case of this nature. So far as the Appellant is concerned, he was the person who would benefit from the plan that was put into operation.

However, it was emphasised in the case of Regina -v- Henderson [2012] 1 Cr App R (S) 18 that sentences for this kind of offence should be as short as possible. In this case there is one further distinguishing feature that the Court of Appeal thought should be recognised. In Henderson the fact of the offence was uncovered in subsequent investigations. In this case the offence may not have come to light at all in the absence of its disclosure by the Appellant and his mother. Without in any way diminishing the seriousness of what they did, their subsequent actions will have taken some courage and is something that entitles them to a little more than a simple onethird full credit for an early guilty plea to operate as an incentive to those who committed such an offence to own up to it.