Jail sentence for driving offence ‘was unlawful’

A MAGISTRATE acted unlawfully in jailing a woman for a motoring offence, the Royal Court has found.

(88787) (29687554)
(88787) (29687554)

The senior court, which sits to hear appeals relating to decisions made in the Magistrate’s Court, found that the Relief Magistrate was wrong to lock up Michelle Bernice Ahier for a week.

In a judgment, it said that the law only allowed for a maximum sentence of a £10,000 fine.

The sentence was quashed, but Ahier remains at HMP La Moye having being convicted of other crimes.

On 26 September, the defendant appeared before the Relief Magistrate to be sentenced for nine offences as well as a number of parking matters. The offences included one count of driving without due care and attention.

The judgment stated: ‘For all the other offences she was sentenced to a total of 31 weeks’ imprisonment and on the count of driving without due care and attention she was sentenced to one week imprisonment, consecutive, making a total of 32 weeks.’

It added: ‘Now the offence of driving without due care and attention is constituted by Article 25 of the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law 1956 and the maximum penalty is a fine at Level 3, in other words £10,000.

‘It follows that the sentence imposed by the Relief Magistrate was unlawful.

‘The Attorney General agrees that this was so and does not oppose the appeal. He also does not seek, in all the circumstances, for us to impose an alternative penalty.

‘In all the circumstances therefore we quash the sentence of one week’s imprisonment and direct that the record be marked “no separate penalty” on the count of driving without due care and attention.

‘It follows that the aggregate sentence which the appellant is now serving is one of 31 weeks’ imprisonment.’

Ahier was represented by Advocate Sarah Dale.

The appeal was heard by Commissioner Sir Michael Birt, the former Bailiff, and Jurats Jerry Ramsden and David Hughes.

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