CPS North East - Hate crime uplifts
Under hate crime legislation the courts must pass increased sentences where prosecutors evidence that offences have been motivated by hostility towards a person’s race, religion, disability, transgender identity or sexuality.
Below are examples of hate crime cases recently prosecuted by CPS North East, each of which resulted in a conviction and an uplifted sentence.
Racially aggravated cases:
1. The defendant was charged with offences of breach of restraining order. He had been made the subject of a restraining order in November 2018 not to contact directly/indirectly Durham Constabulary except in a genuine emergency or for reporting a crime. In breach of the order he sent subsequent e-mails to Police not to report crime nor in a genuine emergency, one of which was racially abusive towards an officer. At Durham Crown court the defendant pleaded guilty and the sentence was uplifted from 10 to 12 months' imprisonment, in recognition of the racial aggravation, and suspended for two years.
2. The defendant was convicted of making off without payment and racially aggravated harassment alarm distress when he refused to pay a taxi fare and then, when challenged, made racially abusive comments. The sentence was uplifted to 12 weeks' custody from a community penalty due to the racial aggravation.
3. The Defendant was charged with racially aggravated battery when he entered a mobile phone shop and racially abused the staff member. Upon being ejected from the shop he punched the staff member in the face whilst continuing with the racial abuse. The defendant was convicted and for this offence received four weeks' imprisonment uplifted from a community penalty to reflect the racial aggravation.
4. The Defendant was charged with an offence of racially aggravated threats of violence when he racially abused and threatened a member of door staff who was assisting in ejecting him from licensed premises. Convicted after a trial, he was sentenced to 16 weeks' custody suspended for 12 months and ordered to undertake rehabilitation activities, which will include addressing his racist behaviour. The court announced that the sentence had been uplifted from 12 to 16 weeks to reflect the racist aggravation. Compensation to the victim of £50 was ordered.
5. The defendant was charged with intentional harassment alarm distress when she entered a takeaway and racially abused a staff member. Upon conviction the defendant was sentenced to a conditional discharge of 6mths which the court announced had been uplifted from three months to reflect the racist behaviour.
Homophobic Hate Crimes
1. The defendant was charged with Assault causing actual bodily harm following a verbal argument with the victim, during which he used homophobic abuse before throwing a glass at his head causing injury. The defendant admitted the assault but denied using homophobic abuse. The CPS appealed the decision of the justices sitting at the North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on 30 November 2018 to sentence the defendant in respect of the assault without having held a Newton hearing and reaching a factual determination on the homophobic hostility. The High Court found in the Crown’s favour and allowed the appeal, sending the case back to the Magistrates to hold the Newton hearing and make a determination on the evidence. On 17th December 2019. magistrates, after hearing evidence, found that the assault was accompanied by homophobic hostility and determined that this had been a hate crime. The defendant’s sentence was increased to eight weeks' custody from a community penalty. The sentence was suspended for 12 months.
2. The defendant was charged with assaulting an emergency worker when he assaulted a police sergeant and made lewd homophobic comments. Following a guilty plea on the day of trial the case was committed for sentence to the Crown Court where the defendant was told his sentence was being increased by 33% to reflect the homophobic nature of the assault. He was given a 12-month Community Order with rehabilitation activities and ordered to pay the Sergeant compensation of £500.
3. Whilst being treated in hospital the defendant made lewd and abusive homophobic comments to a nurse and lewd, abusive transphobic comments to a nursing assistant. He was convicted of two offences of intentional harassment alarm distress and sentenced to 10 weeks' imprisonment and ordered to pay compensation of £50 to each victim. The court announced that the sentence had been uplifted from 8 weeks to reflect the homophobic and transphobic aggravation.