Councillor Howard Sykes, MBE, Leader of the Real Opposition and the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, has written to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland MP, seeking a change in the law after receiving a frustrating letter denying him a review of an unduly lenient sentence.
On 15 March, councillor Sykes wrote to the Attorney General’s Office asking for a review of a case in which Shaw resident, Javid Miah, 23, had sexually assaulted a woman in a frightening attack in Oldham town centre, but Miah had inexplicably not received an immediate custodial sentence for his crime.
Councillor Sykes said: “This case caused many of my constituents’ real disquiet. This offender lives in my hometown and yet he was set free to continue to pose a threat to my female constituents and to other women living elsewhere in Oldham. For a crime such as a sexual assault only a custodial sentence is in my view appropriate.”
After sending a reminder to the Attorney General’s Office that a response was long overdue, councillor Sykes was informed that ‘it is not possible for us to refer this sentence to the Court of Appeal. Although the Law Officers (the Attorney General and Solicitor General) do have the power to ask the Court of Appeal to review certain sentences which appear to them to be unduly lenient, this power only applies to sentences passed in a Crown Court.’
“Clearly then in this case the law is an ass,” added councillor Sykes. “This seems an appalling oversight in the legislation and I have now taken this matter up with the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State requesting the power to review unduly lenient sentences be extended to those imposed in magistrates, as well as in Crown Courts.”