Rape sentence referred for potential appeal

By Connor Steel

FAREHAM MP and Attorney General Suella Braverman must soon help decide whether to refer the sentencing of John Horne to the Court of Appeal following a rape offence in her constituency; with a request that the recent case be re-examined under the Unduly Lenient Sentencing (ULS) Scheme earlier this week.

Mr Horne, 39 years old, was sentenced to nine years in prison after being found guilty of raping a twenty-two year old woman in the early hours of March 19 this year; the offence occurring after following the victim before attacking her on the overhead footbridge near to Fareham Train Station.

This launched a two week appeal for information before police arrested Horne, who admitted charges of rape and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at a hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court. The victim was praised for her bravery in assisting police as she said the assault left her “edge” in public and experiencing severe anxiety in the months since the “prolonged” attack.

Horne must serve at least six years of his sentence before being considered for parole with the judge in court calling him a “dangerous offender”. However this court sentence could be extended if referred and found to be unduly lenient with a range of factors to be considered.

According to updated guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following the scheme’s initial foundation in February 1989 under Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government; a sentence can be deemed as unduly lenient “‘where it falls outside the range of sentences which the judge, applying their mind to all the relevant factors, could reasonably consider appropriate”.

This urgent review will be carried out by the Attorney General’s Office, who this week confirmed the re-examination request, and must be referred to the Court of Appeal within twenty eight days of the sentencing if deemed appropriate. This means a decision must be made by June 22 as Horne was sentenced on May 25 at Portsmouth Crown Court following his guilty plea four weeks earlier.

If referred a new court hearing will be announced examining all evidence and a decision made in due course. Although it can’t be shortened the sentence can be kept unchanged or increased, with rape offences punishable with up to life imprisonment if circumstances deem it appropriate.

For more information readers can visit the Attorney General’s office website or this link, which offers an insight into the ULS scheme and how it can bring justice to victims of criminal offences.

PICTURED BY BBC NEWS: Fareham footbridge where John Horne raped 22-year old woman, with his sentence of nine years potentially being referred to the Court of Appeal.