Ben Williams represents 1st Respondent in defence of ‘Unduly Lenient Sentence’ reference at Court of Appeal

Ben Williams
Written by:

Andrew Rourke


Ben Williams represented Antonio Counihan, a former Team GB boxer, who was one of four defendants in a “brutally effective” Conspiracy to Steal telecommunications hardware from BT Openzone vans in the course of 34 events spread “nationwide”, causing total losses close to £400,000. However, the sentencing judge had been persuaded to pass suspended prison sentences. The Solicitor General referred the sentences on the grounds of undue leniency.

The Court of Appeal, after hearing detailed argument, handed down a reserved judgment on 3rd July 2024. Stuart-Smith LJ concluded that the sentences “at first sight appear to be far too low” and “a counter-intuitive and, frankly, impossible outcome for such serious offending”. However, the court was ultimately persuaded that there had been sufficiently strong mitigating circumstances in each defendant’s case to justify the “humane” outcome reached by the judge in a difficult sentencing exercise, leading to a conclusion that the sentences were “undoubtedly lenient”, but not unduly so.

Written by Andrew Rourke