Regina v Avis, T and others: CACD 16 Dec 1997

The court set out the sentencing considerations for firearms offences in the light of an increase of the use of guns.
Held: The level of sentencing had not sufficiently reflected the gravity of such offences. After the 1994 Act, earlier sentencing cases were not reliable as a guide.
The applicable principles are: ‘(1) What sort of weapon is involved? Genuine firearms are more dangerous than imitation firearms. Loaded firearms are more dangerous then unloaded firearms. Unloaded firearms for which ammunition is available are more dangerous than firearms for which no ammunition is available. Possession of a firearm which has no lawful use (such as a sawn-off shotgun) will be viewed even more seriously than possession of a firearm which is capable of lawful use.
(2) What (if any) use has been made of the firearm? It is necessary for the court, as with any other offence, to take account of all circumstances surrounding any use made of the firearm: the more prolonged and premeditated and violent the use, the more serious the offence is likely to be.
(3) With what intention (if any) did the defendant possess or use the firearm? Generally speaking, the most serious offences under the Act are those which require proof of a specific criminal intent (to endanger life, to cause fear of violence, to resist arrest, to commit an indictable offence). The more serious the act intended, the more serious the offence.
(4) What is the defendant’s record? The seriousness of any firearm offence is inevitably increased if the offender has an established record of committing firearms offences or crimes of violence.’
Orse Avis and Others, Regina v
Lord Bingham LCJ
Times 19-Dec-1997, [1997] EWCA Crim 3423, [1998] 2 Crim App R (S) 178, [1998] Crim LR 428, [1998] 1 Cr App R 4200, [1997] EWCA Crim 3355, [1998] 1 Cr App R (S) 420, [1998] 2 Cr App R (S) 178
Bailii, Bailii
Firearms Act 1968, Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedAttorney General’s Reference No 88 of 2002 (Hahn and Webster) CACD 7-Nov-2003
The Attorney General referred the sentences as too lenient for armed robbery, and aggravated vehicle taking. The defendants worked as a team, and used an imitation firearm, and threatened a victim with it.
Held: The possession of firearms . .
CitedWilkinson and Others, Regina v, Attorney-General’s Reference No 43 of 2009 CACD 6-Oct-2009
The court examined the provisions distinguishing between sentences of imprisonment for life and imprisonment for public protection (IPP) in cases involving very serious gun and drugs crimes.
Held: The Avis case guidelines remained valuable, . .
CitedRollings, Regina v CACD 3-Feb-2012
The solicitor general appealed against a sentence of five years imposed for possession of a prohibited weapon, a handgun with bullets designed to explode on impact.
Held: The sentence was increased to 10 years: ‘This was a case of possession . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 27 March 2021; Ref: scu.151739