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Historic sex offences, sentenced today

Here’s another interesting case concerning that complicated area of advising clients convicted of historic sex offences and the likely sentence they’ll receive today.

In R v Limon [2022] EWCA Crim 39, the appellant was 41 years old when he was sentenced in respect of historic sex offences, namely indecent assault, committed under the ‘old law’, when he was aged between 14 and 17.

The maximum sentence for indecent assault, contrary to s.14 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 is 10years.

Convicted after trial, the appellant received a total sentence of 4years custody in respect of eights offences of indecent assault.

It was submitted that the maximum sentence the appellant would have received, back when he committed the offences, was 12months detention. The resulting sentence of 4years custody was therefore considered both wrong in law and manifestly excessive.

It was further submitted, unsuccessfully, that to impose a sentence in excess of 12months breached Art.7 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The Court of Appeal considered the Sentencing Council’s guideline on sentencing children and young people (“the Children guideline”), concluding that the maximum term of detention available in the appellant’s case would have been 12months.

Further consideration was then given in respect of offenders who cross a ‘significant age threshold’ between the date of the offence and the date of conviction. Given the passage of time it was concluded that applying the ‘new’ guidance was not necessary in this case.

The Court of Appeal were not persuaded that the now adult appellant in 2021 should have been more severely sentenced than the adolescent appellant could or would have been sentenced back then. The appeal was therefore allowed and the appellant’s sentence was reduced to 12months custody.

Read the full transcript of this case.

Contact the Public Defender Service to instruct our criminal defence lawyers specialising in complex cases including Serious Sexual Offences.