Neutral Citation no. [1999] 1939

Ref:

KERF2872

 

 

 

Judgment: approved by the Court for handing down

Delivered:

11/06/99

(subject to editorial corrections)

 

 

 

 

IN HER MAJESTY'S COURT OF APPEAL IN NORTHERN IRELAND

 

____________

 

THE QUEEN

 

-v-

 

ANTHONY THOMAS McGEOUGH

 

_____________

 

KERR J

 

Introduction

 

This is an application for leave to appeal against sentences imposed by His Honour Judge Foote QC at Omagh Crown Court on 8 December 1998. The applicant had pleaded not guilty to two charges of attempting to obtain property by deception contrary to Article 3(1) of the Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 and section 15(1) of the Theft Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 and a charge of going equipped for theft contrary to section 24(1) of the Theft Act (Northern Ireland) 1969. On the application of his counsel, he was rearraigned and then pleaded guilty to all three charges. He was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment on each charge.

Background

On 22 March 1997 the applicant, who lives in Belfast, travelled firstly to Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone and then to Pomeroy. With others he unsuccessfully attempted in both towns to cash a voucher worth 262.20 from a counterfeit Disability Living Allowance payment book. The police later connected the applicant with a number of other counterfeit benefit books found abandoned in the Pomeroy area on the same day and these books formed the basis of the charge of going equipped for theft.

The applicant has a criminal record which spans seventeen years. This includes many offences of dishonesty. At the time of the commission of the present offences the applicant was awaiting trial on charges of attempted deception and forgery. At the time he was sentenced for these offences he was in breach of a community service order imposed in August 1998.

The hearing of the application

Counsel for the applicant referred to a number of decisions of the Court of Appeal in England and Wales in which lesser sentences were imposed than in the present case for offences of dishonesty. He frankly accepted, however, that none of these was on all fours with the present case and that none purported to lay down guidelines for the appropriate sentence in cases of this type.

It is unsurprising that no firm guidelines have been given either in this jurisdiction or in England for offences of dishonesty such as in the present case. The spectrum of cases involving dishonesty at this level is impossibly wide for useful guidelines to be given. In these circumstances it is of doubtful value to seek to compare the sentences imposed in the present case with those in other cases where the facts and the background of the accused may be markedly different.

Conclusions

The applicant failed to admit his involvement in the present offences until the eleventh hour. We consider, therefore, that he is not entitled to the rate of discount on his sentence that would otherwise have been appropriate. By virtue of Article 33 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order a court is enjoined to take into account the stage at which the plea of guilty has been entered and no reason was given to this court to explain the lateness of the applicant's plea.

He has an appalling record of dishonesty. He is therefore ineligible for any discount which would have been appropriate to a person of previously good character.

His behaviour at the time of the commission of the present offences evinced a determination to perpetrate the dishonesty despite initial failure. In all these circumstances, we consider that the sentences imposed by the learned trial judge were neither wrong in principle nor manifestly excessive. The application is dismissed, therefore.


IN HER MAJESTY'S COURT OF APPEAL IN NORTHERN IRELAND

 

____________

 

THE QUEEN

 

-v-

 

ANTHONY THOMAS McGEOUGH

 

_____________

 

J U D G M E N T

 

O F

 

KERR J

 

________