Alured Darlington of Hanwell Chambers has written to The Solicitors Journal urging the Court of Appeal to ensure that they will not be any disadvantage to those appealing their sentences after the new Sentencing Guidelines for drug mules are introduced.
These guidelines, which have widely welcomed, are aimed at preventing drug users from being harshly sentenced when they become involved in supplying or importing drugs, and emphasising the need for sentencers to consider drug treatment orders if the person has played a minor role in the supply chain.
Those who are more central to the supply of drugs will be sentenced more severely.
The change has been broadly welcomed, although some charities who work with drug users think the changes do not go far enough. Drug Scope have said that it is still likely that drug mules will receive higher sentences than appropriate, and as the changes are implemented, Alured Darlington has brought a series of test cases to the Appeal Courts in order to try to ensure that those who have been sentenced before the changes are implemented are not disadvantaged.
Drug Mule Test Cases
The letter below has been drafted for wide circulation by Alured Darlington, who for more years than I have been born has been a pioneer of drug importation cases. Copies of the appeal grounds can be obtained on request. He can be contacted via:
Telephone: 0208 840 8555 or 0208 567 5015
Mobile: 0774 8833 340
Fax: 020 8280 1091
The announcement by the Sentencing Council on 24 January 2012 of a reduction of sentences for those who are drug mules, and not organisers, is long overdue but greatly to be welcomed. The new guideline applies to all offenders aged 18 and over who are sentenced on or after 27 February 2012 regardless of the date of the offence. But it is otherwise silent about those already sentenced as the Sentencing Council has no remit as to past offences .Unless the guideline is clarified in this respect there will be serious anomalies, as there will be a two tier structure of those sentenced before 27 February and those sentenced on or after that date .There will be a situation where there would be some drug mules sentenced before 27 February who would be serving substantially longer sentences than drug mules sentenced on or after that date- even though ,under the criteria set out in the new guideline, the former’s offending could be regarded as being less.
A small implosion in sentence appeals to the Court of Appeal would be inconvenient but would be preferable to the obvious injustice otherwise caused .The alternative suggested by the Prison Reform Trust of the Government reviewing all such cases would be fairer as it would ensure that the cases of those overseas drug mules no longer represented would be picked up .In either event it should reduce the prison population by some hundreds of prisoners ,a saving which could be recycled back to other hard pressed areas of the criminal Justice system
Five test cases have now been lodged with the Court of Appeal by this firm seeking to establish that the new Guideline should be treated retrospectively .Solicitors should be aware that if they have had clients sentenced under the former Aramah Guidelines that these clients might be entitled to substantially reduced sentences if this challenge is successful ,particularly if it still possible to lodge appeals in time .The primary submission is that if the former Aramah guidelines are now found to be too high it is not because they have suddenly become too high on 27 February 2012. They have been recognised as being too high for years .Therefore there is no reason why those already sentenced should not be entitled to share in the benefits of those fortunate enough to be sentenced on or after 27 February 2012. .Illustrative of the anomalies that will now ensue is our lead test case where a woman sentenced to 7 years imprisonment on 5 January 2012 would have received five years imprisonment or less if sentenced on or after 27 February 2012.There is also a similar pending appeal case where sentence took place on 19 January 2012 .
Yours faithfully Alured Darlington
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