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Sentencing discounts offered to clear Supreme Court backlog

The Supreme Court yesterday offered the chance of temporary discounts on sentences for guilty pleas on certain offences to clear a “backlog of active indictable matters”.

Under the policy, the court will “strongly consider” a discount of up to 30 per cent in applicable cases where the Department of Public Prosecutions determines a reduced sentence appropriate.

The guidance was issued this afternoon by Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams, the supervising judge of the criminal division.

The policy will not apply for the offences of:

· Premeditated murder, murder or attempted murder;

· Using, possessing or carrying a firearm;

· Sexual or violent offences against young people or child victims;

· Possession, making or distributing child pornography;

· Serious sexual assaults

The discount policy came after consultation with Cindy Clarke, the Director of Public Prosecutions, along with Susan Moore-Williams, senior legal aid counsel, and senior practising members of the Criminal Bar.

It applies specifically to those awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to one or more charges on an indictment and anyone pleading guilty between today and August 3.

Consideration will be given to those who have entered an unequivocal guilty plea to the charges against them.

In some cases, the extra discount may result in a sentence other than an immediate custodial sentence.

A court spokeswoman said those wishing to enter an unequivocal guilty plea should contact the DPP to hear whether their case qualifies, and whether it is deemed suitable for discount.

If an agreement is secured, the Registry should be contacted for an arraignment hearing at one of the following dates and times: May 4, 2.30pm; May 26, 10am or 2.30pm; June 21, 10am or August 2, 2.30pm.

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