The Sentencing Council for England and Wales (‘the Sentencing Council’) has announced that it is to conduct a consultation into sentencing offenders convicted of manslaughter.
The draft guidelines that have been issued cover four types of manslaughter:
- Unlawful act manslaughter
- Gross negligence manslaughter
- Manslaughter by reason of loss of control
- Manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.
In this article Helen Holder of Kangs Solicitors outlines the proposals in relation to gross negligence manslaughter.
What Is Gross Negligence Manslaughter? | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors
For more details about the actual offence follow the link below:
This offence may be committed in a wide variety of circumstances such as, for example by:
- a parent or carer failing to protect someone from obvious danger or failing to seek medical help when needed;
- an employer disregarding the safety of employees;
- a medical practitioner whose standard of treatment for a patient fell below the required level.
Levels Of Culpability | Kangs Criminal Offence Advisory Team
The court having the responsibility of passing sentence will consider four levels of culpability.
A – Very high culpability , which may be indicated by:
- the extreme character of one or more culpability B factors and /or
- a combination of culpability B factors
B – Factors indicating high culpability
Where the negligent conduct:
- was continued in the face of the obvious suffering of the deceased
- was in the context of other serious criminality
- was motivated by financial gain (or avoidance of cost)
- persisted over a long period of time (weeks or months)
- arose in a situation where the offender was in a dominant role, if acting with others
- arose where the offender was clearly aware of the risk of death arising from such conduct
- involved concealment, destruction, defilement or dismemberment of the body, (where not separately charged).
C – Factors indicating medium culpability
These factors affect cases falling between high and lower because:
- factors are present in high and lower which balance each other out and/or
- the offender’s culpability falls between the factors as described in high and lower
D – Factors indicating lower culpability
These arise where the offender:
- did not appreciate the risk of death arising from the negligent conduct
- presented a lapse in an otherwise satisfactory standard of care
- was in a lesser or subordinate role, if acting with others
- displayed mental disorder, learning disability or lack of maturity
Is The Level Of Harm Relevant? | Kangs Serious Crime Team
In all cases of manslaughter the level of harm caused will be of utmost seriousness due to the loss of life.
Sentencing | Kangs Criminal Trial Solicitors
After considering all factors, the Court will decide on the level of culpability and then decide on a starting point for sentence which, at present, the proposals appear to suggest:
|Starting point: 12 years custody||Starting point 8 years custody||Starting point 4 years custody||Starting point 2 years custody|
|Category range: 10 – 18 years custody||Category range 6 – 12 years custody||Category range 3 – 7 years custody||Category range 1 – 4 years custody|
Aggravating And Mitigating Factors | Kangs Criminal Defence Team
Once the court has identified the appropriate starting point for sentence, it will then consider whether or not there exist any aggravating or mitigating features which may affect the duration of the sentence.
The proposed aggravating and mitigating features are:
Factors increasing seriousness:
- Previous convictions, having regard to a) the nature of the offence to which the conviction relates and its relevance to the current offence; and b) the time that has elapsed since the conviction,
- The offence was committed whilst on bail,
- The offence was motivated by, or demonstrated hostility based on any of the following characteristics or presumed characteristics of the victim: religion, race, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity,
- History of significant violence or abuse towards victim by offender Involvement of others through coercion, intimidation or exploitation,
- Significant mental or physical suffering caused to the deceased,
- Commission of the offence was under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
- The offence involved use of a weapon,
- Other(s) put at risk of harm by the offending,
- Death occurred in the context of dishonesty or the pursuit of financial gain,
- Actions after the event , such as attempts to cover up/conceal evidence,
- Blame wrongly placed on other(s),
- The duty of care arose from a close or familial relationship where the deceased was dependent on the offender,
- The offence was committed whilst on licence, post sentence supervision or while subject to court order(s)
Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation:
- No previous convictions or no relevant/recent convictions ,
- The duty of care was a temporary one created by the particular circumstances,
- Good character and/or exemplary conduct,
- Serious medical conditions requiring urgent, intensive or long-term treatment,
- Age and/or lack of maturity,
- Sole or primary carer for dependent relatives.
How Can We Help You? | Kangs Serious Crime Solicitors
The lengthy terms of imprisonment that are proposed in the consultation show how seriously the Courts will consider offences of gross negligence manslaughter.
If you are alleged to have committed the offence it is important that you receive prompt and accurate advice from an experienced team of lawyers.
Please feel free to contact our team through any of the lawyers named below who will be happy to provide you with some initial advice and an informal chat about any of the issues in this article which may be of interest to you.