Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Pre-sentence Reports

I attended at an East London Magistrates Court recently to deal with a Client who was due to be sentenced for a number of alcohol fuelled public order offences. This particular case seems to have lasted forever. Originally the Client wanted to contest the case. On the day of her trial she changed her plea to guilty. The Client's most recent Court appearance was the third attempt to have her sentenced with the benefit of a pre-sentence report. For various reasons her pre-sentence report has not yet made its way to Court. The incident dates back to July 2004!

On the first attempt to have the Client sentenced she had arrived 10 minutes late for her interview appointment with the Probation Service and was told there was insufficient time to interview her in order to prepare a report. The Client's case was adjourned to obtain the pre-sentence report. On the second attempt to have her sentenced the Probation Service simply failed to offer her an appointment for an interview. Again, the case was adjourned to obtain a report. Most recently I attended at Court to be told although my Client had been interviewed the day before the Probation Service thought that the Client was not due back in Court until next week! Once again the case has been adjourned to get the report.

In view of all of the problems in obtaining a pre-sentence report I would have normally tried to get the Client sentenced without a pre-sentence report. But, as the Court is going to consider custody as their starting point a pre-sentence report seems to be pretty essential. I have my fingers crossed that the report finally gets written and is available for Court on the next date - at least an interview has taken place now.

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