DPP v Norton

JurisdictionIreland
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
JudgeMr. Justice Edwards
Judgment Date03 Dec 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] IECA 276

[2015] IECA 276

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Birmingham J.

Mahon J.

Edwards J.

Record No: CA26/15
DPP v Norton
The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Respondent
v
Paul Norton
Appellant

Sentencing - Robbery - Parity - Appellant seeking to appeal against sentence - Whether sentencing judge erred in law and in fact in the manner in which he approached the issue of parity in sentence between co-defendants

Facts: The appellant, Mr Norton, was the driver of a motor bike which was the intended getaway vehicle for a robbery. On the 21st June 2012, two Group 4 Securicor personnel who were in charge of security van were delivering money to a number of premises within the Northside Shopping Centre, Coolock, Dublin 5. In the process of making the second delivery to the Educational Building Society, they had taken a cash box out of the security van. The appellant pulled up near the main entrance to the shopping centre. The appellant's accomplice grabbed the cash box and tried to run away but was apprehended by the shopping centre security staff. When the Gardaí received a call indicating that a robbery was in progress, they responded immediately and proceeded to the location. The appellant, on seeing the Gardaí took off at high speed along a pedestrian footpath. A Garda McGrath stepped out of a patrol car in an attempt to block the appellant's escape. The appellant drove the motor bike straight at Garda McGrath, who managed to get out of the way in time. The appellant drove at high speed on the wrong side of the road, then overtook a line of traffic that was stopped at a red light, and drove through the red light but was presented with a JCB in possession of the junction that was blocking his path. In trying to avoid colliding with the JCB he lost control of the motorcycle and crashed, following which he was apprehended. While the appellant did ultimately plead guilty to a count of robbery, contrary to s. 14 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001, on the date of his trial, it was only on the morning of his third trial date. The appellant was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, with the final two years thereof suspended, by the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on the 30th January 2015. The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal against the sentence on the grounds that the sentencing judge erred in: (i) the manner in which he approached the issue of parity in sentence between co-defendants; (ii) failing to allow the appellant any or any adequate credit for his plea of guilty; (iii) finding that, having regard to a previous sentence of five years imprisonment imposed upon the appellant, the instant sentence must be longer than that.

Held by Edwards J that the appellant was very significantly more culpable than his co-offender, having regard to the significant aggravating circumstances associated with his flight, his reckless disregard for the threat to life and limb that he posed to third parties in the course of his flight, and his deliberate driving of the motorcycle at a member of An Garda Siochána. Edwards J held that there was less mitigation in his case than in the case of his co-offender; his criminal record was significantly worse than that of his accomplice. In addition, Edwards J noted that the co-offender had been co-operative, whereas the appellant had not, and that the co-offender had pleaded guilty at an early stage whereas the appellant had not done so until the morning of his trial. Edwards J held that an appropriate discount for mitigation was made having regard to the lateness of the plea, and the fact that the appellant was effectively caught red handed. Edwards J was satisfied that the sentencing judge did not regard his discretion as being fettered in the manner suggested by the appellant in his submissions to the Court.

Edwards J held that the appeal should be dismissed.

Appeal dismissed.

Background to the Appeal
1

1. In this case the appellant appeals against a sentence of seven years imprisonment, with the final two years thereof suspended, imposed upon him by the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on the 30 th of January 2015 following his plea to a count of robbery, contrary to s. 14 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001.

2

2. The facts of the case were that on the 21 st June 2012, two Group 4 Securicor personnel who were in charge of security van were delivering money to a number of premises within the Northside Shopping Centre. Coolock. Dublin 5. Mr. Derek May an employee of Group 4 Securicor made his first delivery to Superquinn and was in the process of making his second delivery to the Educational Building Society (EBS). Having taken a cash box out of the security van he was making his way back into the shopping centre when he noticed a motorbike pulled up near the main entrance to the shopping centre. He saw two persons on the motorbike. As he was about to re-enter the shopping centre, a person ran up from behind him and grabbed the cash box out of his hand. Mr May received some minor injuries. The person that grabbed the cash box, who was one of the two men on the motorbike but not the appellant, tried to run away but was apprehended by security staff belonging to the shopping centre. The appellant was the driver of the motor bike which was the intended getaway vehicle. When the Gardaí who happened to be nearby received a call indicating that a robbery-was in progress, they responded immediately and proceeded to the location and observed the appellant on the motorbike waiting in an underpass on Oscar Traynor Road. The appellant, on seeing the gardaí took off at high speed along the pedestrian footpath. The Gardaí activated the siren and blue lights on their patrol car and they attempted to block the appellant's path at the exit from the pedestrian underpass leading on to Cromcastle Road. A patrol car was pulled across his path in front of some bollards, and a Garda McGrath stepped out of a patrol car in an attempt to block the remaining small gap with his person. The appellant drove the motor bike towards or straight at Garda McGrath, but fortunately Garda McGrath managed to get out of the way in time and the motorbike did not collide with him. In the course of being further pursued by gardaí, the appellant drove at high speed on the wrong side of the road, then overtook a line of traffic that was stopped at a red light, and drove through the red light but was presented with a JCB in possession of the junction that was blocking his path. In an seeking to avoid colliding with the JCB he lost control of the motorcycle and crashed, following which he was apprehended.

3

3. The sentencing judge heard that the appellant was not immediately co operative and made no admissions in the course of being interviewed. When asked to account for his presence in the underpass he stated:

"Somebody asked me for a lift. I wasn't aware of any robbery or intention to do anything of the sort. I gave that person a lift and I waited in the underpass because I had no tax or insurance and I wasn't aware that it was a garda car because it wasn't marked and I didn't hear the sirens because of the noise of the bike."

4

4. While the appellant did ultimately plead guilty on the date of his trial, it was only on the morning of his third trial date. On the first trial date the trial had had to be adjourned because the appellant had become involved in an incident in which he was shot in the leg. On the second trial date the trial had had to be adjourned because the appellant failed to turn up in circumstances where he claims to have been involved in a road traffic accident on his way to court, and to have been hospitalised with injuries. He had been travelling in a taxi that was rear ended.

5

5. The appellant was in custody from the 1 st of July 2012 until granted bail by the High Court on the 2 nd of...

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1 cases
  • DPP v O'Driscoll
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal
    • 3 December 2019
    ...being equal, co-offenders should, in general, receive comparable sentences as noted by Edwards J. in the People (D.P.P.) v. Norton [2015] IECA 276. 14 Equally, there did not seem to be any dispute that, at the level of principle, it can be appropriate to impose different sentences given the......

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