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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

New section 224A

640.Subsection (1) of new section 224A sets out the conditions under which the new mandatory life sentence must be imposed. The offender must be an adult when convicted, and the present offence must be listed in Part 1 of Schedule 15B and have been committed after the coming into force of section 224A. The sentence condition and the previous offence condition must also be met (see below).

641.Subsection (2) of new section 224A gives the court a discretion not to impose the life sentence where it is of the opinion that there are particular circumstances which relate to the offence, the previous offence or the offender, which would make it unjust to do so in all the circumstances.

642.Subsection (3) of new section 224A sets out the sentence condition. The present offence must be serious enough to justify the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment of 10 years or more. The court must consider what sentence it would have imposed but for section 224A, and disregarding any extension period it would have imposed under new section 226A (which relates to the new extended sentence). This consideration includes, for example, any guilty plea made by the offender, as well as any aggravating or mitigating factors.

643.Subsection (4) of new section 224A sets out the previous offence condition. The offender must have been previously convicted of an offence listed in any Part of Schedule 15B, and on conviction must have received a relevant life sentence or a relevant determinate sentence.

644.Subsection (5) of new section 224A sets out what is meant by a relevant life sentence. A relevant life sentence is one where the offender was not eligible for release during the first 5 years of the sentence (not taking into account any period spent on remand or bail). The term ‘life sentence’ in subsection (5) includes a sentence of imprisonment or detention for public protection (see subsection (10), which refers to the definition of ‘life sentence’ in section 34 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997).

645.Subsections (6) and (7) of new section 224A set out when an extended sentence (defined in subsection (10), see below) is relevant. An extended sentence is relevant if the custodial term was 10 years or more.

646.Subsection (8) of new section 224A provides that any other determinate sentence of imprisonment or detention of 10 years or more is a relevant sentence.

647.Subsection (9) of new section 224A ensures that any reduction of a sentence for the purpose of taking account of time spent on remand, either in custody or on bail, is to be disregarded when considering whether the previous offence condition has been met. It may be that in some jurisdictions where a previous offence might have been committed time spent on remand is, or may be, applied to reduce the length of the sentence, so the provision deals with that possibility.

648.Subsection (10) of new section 224A defines “extended sentence” and “life sentence.” The definitions include equivalent sentences imposed under the law of Scotland, Northern Ireland and other member States of the European Union.

649.“Sentence of imprisonment or detention” is defined to include any sentence of a period in custody imposed for an offence.

650.Subsection (11) of new section 224A provides that offences in respect of which the new mandatory life sentence under that section is imposed are not to be regarded as offences for which the sentence is fixed by law. Among other things, this obliges the court to follow any relevant sentencing legislation when determining the sentence, if it decides that to impose the mandatory life sentence would be unjust.

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