Court confusion

Writing as an individual magistrate, I’m not surprised Susanna Humphreys (letters, August 1) is confused by the apparent unfairness of sentencing for the same offence as charged.

The stark list as printed does not – and cannot – reflect the enormous variety of circumstances that are taken into consideration in arriving at a sentence.

These include the nature of the offence itself, the harm done, the culpability of the offender, previous offending, whether admitted or denied (resulting in a trial), any remorse shown or restitution made, and many other aggravating or mitigating factors. Courts have detailed guidelines to follow.

They are publicly available, online, at http://sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/guidelines/guidelines-to-download.htm: download Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines – all 298 pages!

Anyone interested can sit in the public gallery in a criminal court and see the process in action.

Mike Brayshaw

magistrate, Christchurch Road, Worthing