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Drilldown: Cases

Not many cases (185) have been added to the database so far. To see the full list of cases (2016) go to the Mental health case law page.

Cases > Subject : Advance decision cases or Life sentence cases

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Page name Sentence Summary
NHS Cumbria CCG v Rushton (2018) EWCOP 41 Withdrawal of CANH; advance decision "This is an application regarding the proposed withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration in respect of Mrs Jillian Rushton, who is now 85 years of age. Since sustaining a traumatic head injury in December 2015, Mrs Rushton has suffered from a prolonged period of disorder of consciousness. Insofar as a label is relevant, the consensus of medical opinion, in respect of which there is no dissent at all, is that she is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). In their recent guidance, ‘Clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH) and adults who lack the capacity to consent’, the Royal College of Physicians and the British Medical Association have noted that the importance of obtaining a precise and definitive diagnosis has reduced. It is recognised by the Courts and clinicians that drawing a firm distinction between vegetative state and minimally conscious state is frequently both artificial and unnecessary. In practice, when assessing best interests, information about the patient’s current condition and prognosis for functional recovery and the level of confidence with which these can be evaluated is invariably of greater importance than a precise diagnosis. ... It perhaps requires to be said, though in my view it should be regarded as axiomatic, that the medical profession must give these advanced decisions the utmost care, attention and scrutiny. I am confident the profession does but I regret to say that I do not think sufficient care and scrutiny took place here. The lesson is an obvious one and needs no amplification. Where advanced decisions have been drawn up and placed with GP records there is an onerous burden on the GP to ensure, wherever possible, that they are made available to clinicians in hospital. By this I mean a copy of the decision should be made available and placed within the hospital records with the objective that the document should follow the patient. It need hardly be said that it will rarely, if ever, be sufficient to summarise an advance decision in a telephone conversation. ... The family have ... made it clear to me that she would not have regarded her present situation as tolerable. Whilst I have no doubt that she would understand the commitment of her son, Tim and his profound resistance to letting her go, I have equally no doubt that she would want to be let go and I have no hesitation in concluding that it is my responsibility to respect this."
R v Bala (2017) EWCA Crim 1460 Unsuccessful life sentence appeal The appellant unsuccessfully argued that he should have received a s37/41 restricted hospital order instead of a life sentence. Extract from judgment: "His applications for an extension of time of 10 years to apply for leave to appeal against sentence and to call fresh evidence were referred to the full court by the single judge. It is the appellant's case that instead of a sentence of Custody for Life the judge should have imposed a hospital order under section 37 Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983 together with a Restriction Order under section 41. ... In R v Vowles; R (Vowles) v SSJ [2015] EWCA Crim 45, [2015] EWCA Civ 56, [2015] MHLO 16 this court set out in detail the approach to be taken by sentencing judges dealing with offenders with mental disorders. At paragraph 54, having earlier set out the statutory framework, the court described the situation in which a section 37/41 order is likely to be the correct disposal in a case where a life sentence is being considered. It is that 1) the mental disorder is treatable 2) once treated there is no evidence the offender would be in any way dangerous, and 3) the offending is entirely due to that mental disorder. In this case the new evidence does not demonstrate that the offending was entirely due to the mental disorder. We are quite satisfied, on the evidence available at the time and the more recent evidence, that the appellant's behaviour when committing the offence was affected by both mental illness and his personality disorder. On the face of it therefore this case did not come within the situation described as likely to lead to a section 37/41 order as described in Vowles. To that we would add the reminder in Vowles that consideration should be given to whether the powers of the Secretary of State under section 47 to transfer a prisoner for treatment would, taking into account all the other circumstances, be appropriate. It is clear from the court log that the judge had well in mind those powers, in the light of Dr Payne's reference to a further review after three months. We are satisfied therefore that even on the fresh evidence the judge could not have concluded, as required by section 37(2)(b), that 'having regard to all the circumstances including the nature of the offence and the character and antecedents of the offender, and to the other available methods of dealing with him, that the most suitable method of disposing of the case is by means of an order under [section 37.]' In short the judge's conclusion was correct at the time and, with hindsight and fresh evidence, remains correct. The real purpose of this appeal was to move the appellant from the release regime consequent upon a life sentence to the regime consequent on a hospital order. That is not a proper basis for an appeal if the original sentence was not wrong in principle. There are some, relatively few, cases where medical evidence obtained years after sentence convincingly demonstrates that the sentencing court proceeded on the wrong basis because of an error by an expert – see eg R v Ahmed [2016] EWCA Crim 670, [2016] MHLO 19. On analysis that is not this case. The sentence was not wrong in principle."
R v Fisher (2019) EWCA Crim 1066 Summary of MH sentencing guidance - life sentence replaced with s37/41 Having summarised the Sentencing Council's Definitive Guideline for Manslaughter (in force 1/11/18) and the relevant available disposals under the MHA, the Court of Appeal revoked sentences of imprisonment and replaced the life sentence with a s37/41 restricted hospital order.
R v Kitchener (2017) EWCA Crim 937 Appeal against life sentence "On 22 November 2002 at the Crown Court at Cardiff before the Recorder of Cardiff His Honour Judge Griffith-Williams QC the applicant, then aged 20, pleaded guilty to attempted murder contrary to s.1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981. On 2 December 2002, he was sentenced by the same judge to custody for life with a minimum term of 4 years and 8 months less 4 months on remand in custody. His applications for an extension of time of about 14 years, for leave to appeal against sentence and to call fresh psychiatric evidence have been referred to the full Court by the single judge. The basis for the application for leave to appeal against sentence is that the applicant contends that he should have been sentenced to a hospital order and a restriction order under sections 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act 1983 rather than to custody for life. The basis for the application for an extension of time is that the psychiatric report of Dr Sobia Khan dated 26 October 2015 was not available at the time of sentence. That report is said to satisfy the conditions for the admission of fresh evidence under section 23 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968. The admission of the report is said to be both necessary and expedient in the interests of justice."

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