R v TS: Youth Rehabilitation Orders and Turning 18 Before Sentence

R v TS [2024] EWCA Crim 382

An 18-year-old’s sentence of a community order had been wrong in principle and was subsequently quashed and substituted for a Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) on appeal. 

Summary

TS was aged 15 when he committed the offences of handling stolen goods and aggravated vehicle taking. 

By the time he had made admissions of guilt, he had turned 17. At the date of sentence, he had turned 18. He was sentenced by the Crown Court to a community order for a period of two years, with 25 days rehabilitation activity and 150 hours unpaid work. The adult victim surcharge of £95 was applied.

TS appealed on the basis that the sentence imposed upon him had been wrong in principle, taking account of his age at the time of conviction. Leave to appeal was granted 220 days out of time, unopposed by the Crown. 

The Court of Appeal ruled that the sentence had indeed been wrong in principle. A community order could not have been imposed on somebody who was under 18 at the date of conviction (paragraph 8). 

The sentence was replaced with a YRO with a requirement of 40 hours unpaid work and the victim surcharge was reduced from £95 to £22. 

COMMENTARY + PRACTICAL ADVICE

This case is a reminder to those with clients approaching or turning 18 prior to the sentencing exercise that the sentences available to the court are dictated by the age at the date of conviction, not the age at date of sentence. Any child who has pleaded or been found guilty prior to their 18th birthday should not receive an adult disposal and to do so would be wrong in principle. Therefore, the YJS must offer YROs even where a child has turned 18, provided the date of conviction was prior to that.

Practitioners should ensure they have identified the age at date of conviction accurately, as well as the age at date of offence which generally remains the starting point for determining culpability in relation to sentence (R v Ghafoor [2002] EWCA Crim 1857).

 

Written by Violet Smart, Doughty Street Chambers