Kassia Pletscher recently appeared in the Court of Appeal in an appeal against sentence, representing a man who had been convicted of handling stolen goods and sentenced to 3 years’ custody. The value of the goods handled was around £2,000, but the judge at first instance found that there was significant additional harm which moved the offence from Category 3 to Category 2 on the sentencing guidelines. This was because the goods in question had been stolen in a very recent domestic burglary, and the items taken included house keys, which the judge considered would be of substantial value to anyone. The appellant and his co-defendant both had lengthy criminal records for dishonesty offences, including burglary and handing stolen goods.
The appellants argued that there was no evidence to suggest that the stolen items had any substantial additional value to the victims beyond their monetary worth, and that the judge was not entitled to take into account the fact that the goods were stolen in a recent domestic burglary, because that had already been accounted for when assessing culpability.
The Court of Appeal held that the sentencing judge’s analysis was wrong, and that although the appellants’ lengthy criminal records were sufficiently aggravating to lift the offences into Category 2, the judge had taken a starting point that was too high. The sentence was accordingly reduced from 3 years to 2 ½ years.