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Death by dangerous driving

Volume 709: debated on Monday 21 February 2022

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that Raihan Ahmed caused death by dangerous driving, drove without a licence or insurance and failed to stop at the scene of the crime; notes that the actions of Raihan Ahmed led to the loss of Ghulam Nabi’s life; further that under his current sentence Ahmed could be out on the street in under two years whilst the family and community grieve for the rest of their lives; declares that a longer sentence will act as a greater deterrent to others.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to request that the Attorney General refer the unduly lenient sentence to the Court of Appeal.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Liam Byrne , Official Report, 08 December 2021; Vol. 705, c. 532.]


Observations from the Solicitor General (Alex Chalk):

At the outset, we would like to convey our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Ghulam Nabi.

The Attorney General and the Solicitor General have the power to refer unduly lenient sentences passed in respect of certain offences to the Court of Appeal for review. The Court of Appeal will only grant permission to refer a sentence in exceptional circumstances, for example if the judge has made some gross error, or has passed a sentence that falls outside the range of sentences which a judge, applying their mind to all the relevant factors, could reasonably consider appropriate The bar to increasing a sentence is a very high one.

The offences which fall within the scheme are prescribed by Parliament in legislation. When offences do fall within the unduly lenient sentence scheme, any referral to the Court of Appeal must be made within 28 days. This is a strict time limit which cannot be extended.

The Attorney General’s Office received a request to review this sentence on 11 November 2021. The Solicitor General carefully considered this case and concluded that there was no proper basis upon which a referral to the Court of Appeal could be sustained. The Solicitor General was mindful that the sentence was within the appropriate range prescribed in the applicable sentencing guideline. The offender was entitled to credit for his plea and this was properly applied by the judge. The Solicitor General appreciates that sentences deemed to be within a reasonable range from a legal perspective may not be considered appropriate by victims of crime or members of the public. However, the test for undue leniency is so strictly applied that it would have been wrong to refer this case after having concluded that the very high threshold for a referral had not been met.