Justine McNally – sentencing

If Justine did deceive the victim and the deception lead to a crime being committed, then what sentence should have been imposed? There is no mathematical formula but there are detailed guidelines here, here, and here.

The starting point, assuming only fingers or tongues were involved, is 2 years. Sentence specific aggravating factors and mitigating factors are then considered – there does not appear to be any in this case. Next general aggravating factors and mitigating factors are considered. This would include Justine’s age and up bringing.  Per the CPS “the youth and immaturity of the offender must also be taken into account”. Finally, a deduction is made for a guilty plea. If Justine pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, then she is entitled to a deduction of one third. Therefore, Justine should have been looking at a sentence of around 16 months.

Why then was Justine sentenced to 36 months? Was it the deception. Again per CPS

Where a factor is an ingredient of an offence or is used to identify a starting point, it cannot also be an aggravating factor and care will be necessary to avoid double counting. Since sexual offences often involve some form of violence as an essential element of the offence, this is included in the starting points.

Therefore, a sentence of 16 months already includes some form of violence. In Justine’s case there was no violence but deception so this would already be included in the 16 months. As deception was an essential ingredient in her offence it cannot also be an aggravating factor.

I am at a loss to explain the 20 month discrepancy between my analysis and the court’s sentence.