SENTENCING STATEMENTS

 

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PF v Mandeep Singh

 

Aug 25, 2020

At Glasgow Sheriff Court today Summary Sheriff Brown imposed a Restriction of Liberty Order of 72 days on Mandeep Singh after the accused pleaded guilty to holding a procession in public otherwise in accordance with the lawful conditions placed in relation to the time and route of the procession. The accused refused to accept the Restriction of Liberty Order leaving no appropriate alternative to a custodial sentence of 72 days.



On sentencing, Summary Sheriff Brown made the following statement in court:

“You were responsible for organising the “All Under One Banner” procession in Glasgow on 4 May 2019.  By virtue of your plea of guilty it is accepted that you held a procession in public otherwise than in accordance with lawful conditions placed upon you with respect to the time and the route of the procession. The planning phase included email correspondence and a number of meetings with members of Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue and the relevant departments of Glasgow City Council.  20,000 to 100,000 people were expected to attend. You yourself have estimated the numbers of people actually in attendance at 100,000 people.  This was a large scale and major event and you were under no illusions that the time and route you eventually took was unacceptable.  You were told that failing to adhere to the conditions presented “a clear risk to public safety and disruption of the life of the community.”   On the morning of the procession you were reminded by police officers that you would be committing a criminal offence if you did not adhere to the terms of the order. Nevertheless, you disregarded the designated start time and took the procession on a route which deviated from that which was authorised.

In the first place I have been asked to consider an absolute discharge in this case in terms of section 246 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.  The effect of an absolute discharge would be that this would be deemed not to be a conviction (other than for the purposes set out in section 247 of that Act).   In considering whether an absolute discharge should be granted I am required to have regard to all of the circumstances including the nature of the offence and your character, in this particular case my attention has been drawn to the nature of your employment and the possible consequences of conviction, and to assess whether it is inexpedient to inflict punishment in the present case.  Having carried out that exercise, it is clear that this is not a case in which it can be said that the legal test for an absolute discharge has been met. 

It was submitted on your behalf that the public interest of this prosecution was open to question.  It was submitted that throughout the meetings you had indicated the time and route which you wanted to take and that you felt it was an impossibility to change this due to logistics and advertising.   I do not accept the submission that this prosecution is vulnerable to the criticism of not being in the public interest.   It seems to me that it is very much in the public interest that those responsible for organising events such as these adhere to the law for the protection of the participants, the local community and the police.    It is a testament to the professionalism of the police officers involved that they still made provision for the alternative route and time which you insisted upon.

I therefore do not consider this to be a trivial matter.  On the contrary, it is a serious offence which had the potential to impact upon a huge number of people.  I am satisfied that the gravity of this offence means that the threshold in relation to a custodial sentence has been engaged.

Having said all of that, I note all of the mitigation advanced on your behalf and the terms of the criminal justice social work report. In light of the fact that the maximum period of imprisonment which I can impose for this particular offence is three months, I have also noted that the presumption against short sentences in terms of section 204(3A) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 as amended by the Presumption Against Short Periods of Imprisonment (Scotland) Order 2019 is in your favour.  As you have never before served a period of imprisonment, you also enjoy the protection of section 204(2) of the 1995 Act which stipulates that I should not pass a sentence of imprisonment unless there is no other appropriate method of dealing with you.   I have also considered the “principle and purposes of sentencing” guidelines issued by the Scottish Sentencing Council and had regard to all the relevant factors of this case including the seriousness of the offence, the impact on the public and others affected by the offending as well as your personal circumstances.   I am conscious of the fact that the sentence is to be no more severe than is necessary to achieve the appropriate purposes of sentencing. 

I note in particular the personal difficulties you have experienced in the past, your lack of relevant previous convictions and your difficult present circumstances. I am told that you felt there was no risk.  That has to be set against the fact that you were not in a position to make that assessment and you had no authority to do so.   However, I have been provided with copies of emails from persons who attended the march or who were involved with you in organising the march and the clear tenor is that it was a peaceful and organised event.  Indeed, I note that the Crown have not submitted that any actual harm followed upon the procession. 

For all of these reasons, I am persuaded that there is an appropriate alternative to a period of imprisonment available to me.   The alternatives available are limited by the fact that you cannot carry out unpaid work due to ill health.  This means the appropriate alternative available to me is a Restriction of Liberty Order.  

I will therefore impose a Restriction of Liberty Order requiring you to remain within your home address between the hours of 6pm and 6am for a period of 72 days modified from 80 days for the timing of your plea which was tendered on the morning of the trial.   Electronic equipment will be installed in your home and an electronic device will be fitted to your person.  If you leave your house during the restricted hours or tamper with the equipment this will constitute a breach of the order and you will be brought back to court.  If any breach is established it will then be open to me to once again consider all sentencing options.  

[The accused refused to accept the Restriction of Liberty Order leaving no appropriate alternative to a custodial sentence- sentence of 72 days imprisonment modified to 80 days for the timing of the plea.]

 

24 August 2020