Following on from success when representing a youth who was sentenced to twice that an adult could receive and having changed the law in the process, the High Court has just handed down a judgment in another case in which ABR Solicitors instructed Nicholas, which took place that same week.
In R v Henderson  EWHC 464 (Admin), Nicholas argued that it was wrong in principle for a defendant to be convicted of an underlying offence in the Magistrates’ Court when he had been convicted of the racially aggravated form of the offence on the same facts.
Mr Henderson had been convicted of 3 offences of racially aggravated public disorder. He was then also convicted of 3 offences of public disorder based on the same facts on the basis that all of the essential elements of the underlying offence were contained in the racially aggravated form of the offence.
The appeal was brought on his behalf on the basis that a person should only have recorded against them one offence for a single piece of offending behaviour and it was repugnant to justice for them to be convicted of two offences, one of which was identical in all but one respect.
Constituted by Lord Justice Simon, Mr Justice Cooke and Mr Justice Leggatt, the High Court agreed. In doing so the Court disapproved of the guidance issued to Magistrates presented with this situation. It also sought to resolve a tension which existed between two High Court cases as to what the correct approach is in these circumstances. The Court also identified the powers of the Crown Court when presented with an appeal against the aggravated version of the offending.
For Mr Henderson it means three convictions on his record have been quashed. At a national level it should result in a change in the way in which Magistrates Courts will deal with defendants who find themselves in Mr Henderson’s position charged with both an underlying offence and the aggravated form (whether racially or religiously) of the same offence on the basis of a single set of facts.
Should practitioners be presented with a similar situation to this, both Keith and Nicholas will be very happy to discuss this case and its wider significance with them.