Regina v Chapman: CACD 22 Jul 1999

A discretionary life sentence intended to protect the public could now only be imposed after establishing compliance with the Act in that the sentence was so serious as to deserve a very long sentence, and for an unforeseeable time into the future, he would remain a serious danger to the public.
Lord Bingham CJ said: ‘In most of those cases there was no express departure from the criteria laid down in R v Hodgson, and certainly no doubt has to our knowledge ever been cast on the authority of that decision, which was very recently re-affirmed in Attorney General’s Reference No 32 of 1996 (R v Whittaker). In Attorney General’s Reference No 34 of 1992 (R v Oxford) (1993) 15 Cr App R(S) 167, R v Hodgson was indeed specifically relied on as laying down principles which were described as ‘not in dispute’. It is in our judgment plain, as the court has on occasion acknowledged, that there is an interrelationship between the gravity of the offence before the court, the likelihood of further offending, and the gravity of further offending should such occur. The more likely it is that an offender will offend again, and the more grave such offending is likely to be if it does occur, the less emphasis the court may lay on the gravity of the original offence. There is, however, in our judgment no ground for doubting the indispensability of the first condition laid down for imposition of an indeterminate life sentence in R v Hodgson, re-affirmed, as we say, in the more recent Attorney General’s Reference No 32 of 1996 (R v Whittaker). It moreover seems to this court to be wrong in principle to water down that condition since a sentence of life imprisonment is now the most severe sentence that the court can impose, and it is not in our judgment one which should ever be imposed unless the circumstances are such as to call for a severe sentence based on the offence which the offender has committed. We accordingly find ourselves in sympathy with all the submissions made by Mr Fitzgerald, which are as we conclude soundly based in law.’


Lord Bingham of Cornhill LCJ, Alliott, Steel JJ


Times 02-Aug-1999, [1999] EWCA Crim 2056, [2000] 1 Cr App R 77, [2000] 1 Cr App R (S) 377, [1999] Crim LR 852




Criminal Justice Act 1991 2(2)(b)


England and Wales


ApprovedAttorney-General’s Reference No 32 of 1996, Regina v Whittaker CACD 1997
The Court described the circumstances under which a life sentence of imprisonment can be imposed: ‘It appears to this Court that the conditions may be put under two heads. The first is that the offender should have been convicted of a very serious . .

Cited by:

CitedGiles, Regina (on the Application of) v Parole Board and Another HL 31-Jul-2003
The defendant had been sentenced for offences of violence, but an additional period was imposed to protect the public. He had been refused leave for reconsideration of that part of his sentence after he completed the normal segment of his sentence. . .
CitedSturnham, Regina (on The Application of) v The Parole Board of England and Wales and Another (No 2) SC 3-Jul-2013
From 4 April 2005 until 3 December 2012, English law provided for the imposition of sentences of imprisonment for public protection (‘IPP’). The Court addressed the practical and legal issues resulting from the new system.
Held: The decision . .
CitedHaney and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v The Secretary of State for Justice SC 10-Dec-2014
The four claimants, each serving indeterminate prison sentences, said that as they approached the times when thy might apply for parol, they had been given insufficient support and training to meet the requirements for release. The courts below had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Sentencing, Crime

Updated: 31 May 2022; Ref: scu.158456