Megan Fletcher, instructed as Counsel alone, represented the Appellant in an appeal against sentence at the Court of Appeal with leave of the Single Judge. In August 2019, the Appellant was sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court for the offence of blackmail. He received a two-year custodial sentence which Megan successfully submitted was manifestly excessive.
The Appellant and the victim had been in a relationship. The Appellant did not take the termination of the relationship well and on one day in February 2019, he demanded the sum of £5,000 from the victim and threatened to post nude images he had of the victim around her home town, as well as to her place of work. The Appellant indicated a guilty plea at the earliest possible opportunity and was committed to the Crown Court for sentence where Megan first represented him, instructed by Blaser Mills Solicitors.
On appeal, Megan submitted that although there are no Sentencing Council guidelines for the offence of blackmail, the Judge should have had regard to the guideline for Disclosing Private Sexual Images Without Consent, an offence created by section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. She submitted that, had the Judge had regard to this guideline he would not have concluded, as he did, that the starting point was one of three years; despite the gravamen of blackmail not being present in a s.33 offence.
The Court of Appeal agreed with this submission; and having found that the two-year sentence was manifestly excessive the sentence was quashed and replaced with an 18-month custodial sentence; representing a reduction in sentence length by one quarter.