R v M (2016)

An offender who, with another, had prevented a rape victim from calling the police for fear that police involvement would result in loss of their tenancy, had his prison sentence of six years for false imprisonment and a concurrent three years for assault reduced to match that of the co-accused, namely four-and-a-half and two years respectively. The rapist had received an eight-year prison sentence.

The appellant (M) appealed against his prison sentence of six years for false imprisonment and three years for grievous bodily harm to be served concurrently.

 

M and his wife were residential tenants. On the date of the offence other people were present in the premises. The victim (V) came into the living room and said she had just been raped by one of them in a nearby room and was going to call the police. M and his wife dragged V away from the living room and locked her in a bedroom for two hours to prevent her calling them. In the process V struggled and suffered grievous bodily harm, including being kicked with bare feet. M and his wife later said they did it because they feared that the involvement of police could lead to their losing the tenancy. The trial judge said that there was no distinction in culpability between M and his wife. The Court of Appeal had reduced the wife’s prison sentence to four-and-a-half years for the false imprisonment and two years for the assault, to be served concurrently. The man who had raped V had been sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. The single judge had noted that M had received a six-year sentence while the rapist had received one of eight years.

 

M submitted that his sentence was manifestly excessive.

 

HELD: The more serious of M’s offences was the false imprisonment, as it had prevented V calling the police after the rape. M had shown no remorse and had denied the offence at first. The wife had more mitigation, in that she had been suffering from depression since the civil war in Somalia. The motivation for the offences had been fear of losing the tenancy, there had been no weapon, and the kicking had been without shoes. The trial judge had adopted too high a starting point. M’s sentence was reduced to four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment for false imprisonment and two years’ imprisonment for the assault, to be served concurrently.

 

Appeal allowed

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