Saturday, March 21, 2015


This BBC report  surprised me and will probably surprise  a lot of magistrates. The offence boils down to a potentially vicious attack, in a context of road rage. These factors would led me to expect a serious sentence of at least a year or two, but this disposal appears a bit milk-and-water. Any thoughts?


  1. "Norris Dennis cut up van driver Mark Pinnock " A poorly chosen phrase as an axe was involved.

  2. I used to encourage colleagues to retain matters if reasonable, if I thought it was too serious to be dealt with in a higher court.

  3. I was struck firstly by the observation that Mr Dennis "had been stabbed in a road rage incident in the past". That might go some way to explaining his extraordinarily stupid and dangerous recourse to an axe.

    As we all know, it is very difficult, and indeed sometimes foolhardy, to "second guess" sentences without knowing all the facts, but the reports of this event seem to suggest a degree of recognition, even by the Prosecution, that one shouldn't necessarily read too, too much into this incident. How many prosecutors do you know who would normally begin their summing up of a road rage attack involving an axe with the word "daft"?

  4. He was convicted of having a bladed article. As a self-employed gardener, is that so unreasonable? Not threatening someone with it, obviously

  5. I suspect the lack of severity of the sentence may come down to two things. Firstly, we don't know for sure what the chap with the axe actually did with it, all we have is what was reportedly said, which may or may not be accurate.

    Secondly, this was an incident which was essentially an argument between two men, both of who may well have used inflammatory language, yet only one of whom has been charged and convicted of an offence. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to find that, in reality, the person who was "cut up" started the argument and inflamed the situation to the point where the convicted chap got the axe out.

    Given the possibly aggravating circumstances then perhaps the sentence looks more reasonable.

    Like many, I suspect, I've suffered at the hands of bullies driving vehicles. Over the years I've learned to just ignore them in the main, or make a verbal comment that will be recorded by my dashboard camera, primarily so there is some context should there be a further incident with the same vehicle later.

  6. If the charge had been a bladed article I would have thought he would have ended up in jail, or should have if the sentencing guidlines were followed.
    But it is hard to say on the facts we know. Sounds like a one off

  7. What's the "stand your ground" law in the UK? Is a person under verbal attack, and fearing it is about to turn physical, obliged to run away, or is he allowed to pick up a bladed article he has near for the good reason that he is a gardener and use it to defend himself?

  8. He brandished a weapon during a confrontation. That's all there was to it.

    The order given was at the top end of medium. Mitigating factor is that the original possession of the weapon was legitimate, and it was only produced in response to a perceived threat.

    He is not a dangerous man, and the offence doesn't fall into the serious category envisaged by Povey. While the starting point would be custody, there is mitigation so a medium to high level order seems certainly within the reasonable range.


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