OVER the past three years a handful of Dorset offenders have seen the sentences for their crimes increased by the Court of Appeal.

The responsibility for passing sentence in criminal cases at the crown court comes down to the judge.

This is after the defendant has admitted his guilt to the offences he is alleged to have committed or once they have been found guilty at a trial.

The sentence someone receives following conviction is determined after the judge considers a number of factors.

For most crimes they are guided by a sentencing guideline, which provides the starting point for the offence given its seriousness, along with a sentencing range.

Judges must also factor in relevant aggravating and mitigating factors before reaching a conclusion.

However, in the late 1980s legislation provided the opportunity for a sentence to be reviewed and potentially increased by the Court of Appeal.

This was brought about following a backlash to the sentence handed out in a high-profile rape case.

The Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme came into force as part of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

The first ULS hearing took place in July 1989 and the defendant had their prison sentence doubled from three to six years.

Anyone is able to ask the Attorney General's Office (AGO) to review a crown court sentence, subject to it being an offence which the scheme covers.

The AGO must refer a case to the Court of Appeal within 28 days of the date of sentencing.

Recently, the scheme has broadened so more offences can be referred, including sexual abuse of children or vulnerable adult offences, and stalking and harassment involving violence.

In the past few years several Dorset criminals have been adjudged to have received unduly lenient sentences in the crown court. The following is a summary of those cases and the heightened sentence they were given.

Timothy Brehmer

Former Dorset Police officer Timothy Keith Brehmer was jailed for 10 years and six months at Salisbury Crown Court in October last year for the manslaughter of Claire Parry.

Bournemouth Echo: Timothy BrehmerTimothy Brehmer

Brehmer, 42 and of Hordle, New Forest, killed his long-term lover in the car park of the Horns Inn pub in West Parley in May 2020.

In March of this year, three Court of Appeal justices concluded that sentencing judge Mr Justice Richard Jacobs correctly placed the offence in the highest category of culpability within the sentencing guideline, however, they found he gave too little weight to the aggravating factors in the case.

The Court of Appeal also ruled that too much credit had been given for Brehmer’s guilty plea to manslaughter.

As a result, they added three years to his prison sentence.

Lewis Davis

Lewis Jay Davis had initially been given a chance through a deferred sentence after he admitted offences of possessing cocaine with intent to supply, possession of MDMA and cannabis, possession of criminal cash, possession of three stun guns and a lock knife.

Bournemouth Echo: Lewis Jay DavisLewis Jay Davis

Davis, 25 and of Yeo Valley, Stoford, Somerset, found one of the weapons, the class A drug, cash, and a quantity of cannabis in his car in Sherborne in July last year.

Judge Robert Pawson deferred sentence on the defendant for six months and set a number of “expectations” at the Bournemouth Crown Court hearing in September 2019.

But this deferment was put to the AGO and subsequently a referral was made to the Court of Appeal in relation to the drug supply offence.

Following a hearing, the Court of Appeal confirmed on December 2, 2020, that an immediate term of imprisonment was appropriate.

Davis was jailed for three years.

Gary Boothe

Knife-wielding robber Gary Boothe was initially sent down for five-and-a-half years after he committed a series of offences in Bournemouth and Poole.

Bournemouth Echo: Gary BootheGary Boothe

Boothe, now aged 42, robbed around £3,000 from two betting shops, threatening staff with a knife, in November 2018.

During the first robbery on Thursday, November 15, he threatened the lone member of staff present at the Coral bookies in Oakdale Road, Poole with a six-inch breadknife, climbing onto the counter and crawling towards the frightened member of staff, before taking £720 in cash.

Two days later, he targeted the Betfred in Commercial Road, Bournemouth waiting until several customers had left the premises before jumping over the counter and threatening the lone female member of staff with a knife. He left the shop with around £2,240 in cash.

The defendant, who was of no fixed abode, was sentenced in February 2019 at Bournemouth Crown Court, with an extended licence period of a five years and three months on top of the prison term due to the danger he posed to the public.

This came after he admitted two counts of robbery, three thefts and three counts of possessing a bladed article in a public place.

Just two months later the Court of Appeal had increased the sentence to eight-and-a-half years’ imprisonment with a five-year extended licence.

Tony Baker

Poole man Tony Baker had his prison sentence extended after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a child.

Baker, 53, and of Archway Road, Poole, carried out a series of sexual assaults against the victim.

He was originally sentenced to two years and three months’ imprisonment at Bournemouth Crown Court in August 2018.

Then Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC MP, who is now the Justice Secretary, referred the sentence through the ULS scheme.

The Court of Appeal ruled the prison term should be increased and they put it up to four years in November 2018.

Mr Buckland said: “Baker repeatedly sexually abused his victim over a number of years, robbing her of her youth.”

Craig Scarpellini

The case of violent mugger Craig Scarpellini was another when the sentencing judge had initially decided to give the defendant an opportunity.

Scarpellini, now 28, beat his victim unconscious during an attack in Christchurch in order to steal his phone and wallet.

The defendant was walking through the town in the early hours of Monday, June 26, 2017, when he spotted his victim, a 32-year-old man who had left The Boathouse in Quay Road at around 1.30am.

The defendant offered the victim cannabis and said they would have to walk to a nearby flat to get it.

But as the pair made their way towards a block of flats in Arthur Road at the junction with Arthur Lane, another man with his face covered appeared in the road.

The victim attempted to run, but Scarpellini punched him in the head. He was then beaten by both men until he fell unconscious.

When police arrested him, he said he had acted in self-defence after the victim went "berserk". The defendant was convicted after a trial.

In July 2018, a judge at Bournemouth Crown Court deferred the sentence until November of the same year so the defendant, formerly of Barrack Road in Christchurch, could make progress with a series of conditions.

If all conditions were met, he was told he may be made the subject of a suspended sentence order.

However, the Court of Appeal handed down an immediate prison term, jailing Scarpellini for four years.

How many cases get referred?

The online archive of the AGO provides details on the number of crown court sentences in England and Wales that law officers have challenged over the past few years.

In 2018, 140 cases were referred, leading to 99 offenders having their sentences increased. This included 23 people who were put behind bars having initially avoided immediate custody.

The following year 577 applications for sentences to be reviewed by the AGO were submitted and 93 of these were referred to the Court of Appeal. Judges ruled that 64 sentences were too low.

Full details for 2020 cases have not yet been released as some in the latter part of the year may still be subject to referral hearings.

However, AGO data shows 770 applications were made.

This included nine Bournemouth Crown Court cases, of which just Davis’s was referred to the Court of Appeal. Seven of the others were deemed to not meet the ‘high threshold’ in place under the ULS scheme to warrant a referral, while one case involved an offence which is not covered by the scheme.