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Top UK judge urges Island to update its laws

Top UK judge urges Island to update its laws

Monday 25 July 2016

Top UK judge urges Island to update its laws

Monday 25 July 2016

The judge hearing an appeal of two youths convicted of perverting the course of justice in relation to the death of 16-year-old Morgan Huelin last year says Jersey needs to update its community service laws.

Although Sir Christopher Pitchers and his panel turned down the appeals, the defence then asked the court to reduce the boys’ sentences. They’d been given community service orders.

Because of the way the law was written, at first Sir Christopher wasn’t sure if they had the powers to change community service sentences. But he did later find another section of the law, Article 20, section three, which allowed him to “circumvent the difficulty”. As he noted, “it is not satisfactory but it is a way of seeing that justice is done.”

The panel later reduced the sentence of one of the boys to 50 hours community service, so that both were both being “treated equally."

But, according to Sir Christopher, the situation is far from ideal. He urged the Island’s Attorney General to change the law so there clearly is a right to appeal a community service order sentence.

It’s not the first time this problem has been highlighted. Back in 2008, the then Deputy Bailiff, Michael Burt, found himself in a similar situation and said something should be done. That was almost a decade ago.

Defence Advocate Christina Hall echoed the commissioner’s sentiments, saying it's important the law is amended because under the current set-up, “...someone could be given the wrong sentence, and not be able to appeal."

The Island’s Attorney General, Robert MacRae QC says he is aware of the situation but that it could soon be fixed: “Jersey’s criminal procedure law is being reviewed and it is hoped that draft legislation will be put before the States next year.”

In a statement he goes on to say: “One of the matters that will be dealt in that law, which covers a wide range of topics, is the need to amend Article 17 of the Magistrate’s Court Law to ensure that the Royal Court can consider appeals against all sentences imposed by the Magistrate, including probation and community service orders.”

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