A lot has been written in recent days about the sentence passed following Ant McPartlin’s (of ‘And and Dec’ fame) conviction for drink driving, in the following article, we are going to examine the case in a little more detail.
What offence was he charged with?
McPartlin pleaded guilty to an offence of driving with excess alcohol also known as drink driving, which resulted from a road traffic accident that occurred on 18th March 2018.
His breath alcohol reading was 75 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit considered safe to drive is 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath.
What was the sentence?
McPartlin was fined the sum of £86,000 and disqualified from driving for a period of 20 months, which will be reduced to 15 months if he completes a rehabilitation course.
That’s a lot of money!
Yes, it is correct.
His net weekly income was £130,000, according to his tax return. In this case, the sentencing guideline indicates a Band C fine, which would have resulted in a fine of £195,000 before discount for plea of guilty of £130,000. (as he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity).
We can deduce that the Judge issued a somewhat more lenient Band B fine because the fine was £86,000 rather than £130,000.
However, that leniency is entirely consistent with the sentencing guideline, which is intended to guarantee that fines for high-net-worth persons are not disproportionate to the gravity of the crime. The guideline can be found at https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/offenses/item/excess-alcohol-driveattempt-to-drive-revised-2017/.
Many people believe that because of McPartlin’s wealth, the fine will have no effect on him. That is most likely correct. A fine of £130,000, on the other hand, is unlikely to do so.
However, by any metric, it is a sizable quantity of money, and penalties are intended to deprive someone of income and force them to pay that sum back to society.
Why did he not receive a community penalty?
The guideline offers a punishment range ranging from a fine to a community penalty, with the latter at the top of the scale. Criminality is right in the middle of the scale when it comes to alcohol use.
However, because there are four aggravating factors in the case and three mitigating factors, the sentence is slightly increased.
He also has what is known as ‘positive good character,’ which refers to aspects of behaviour that go beyond simply not breaking the law. Over a long period of time, he has supported a significant number of charities, both financially and otherwise, and his service to society has been recognised by the courts. Even if a court had considered whether this offence had crossed the line into community punishment territory, most judges would have refrained due to the need of his continued addiction treatment.
Although sentencing is not a mathematical exercise, it would be difficult to support a community sentence based on the facts.
What about the prohibition?
Again, 20 months is right on the money. Most first-time offenders are awarded a reduction in their sentence if they complete a rehabilitation programme.
Was his driving not careless or dangerous?
Although the driving was definitely irresponsible, charging it in addition to alcohol driving would have been pointless because all of the circumstances (including the crash) would have been considered in any case.
Although the driving was potentially risky, the Crown Prosecution Service has charging guidelines for this offence, so it’s no surprise that the charge was not added.
So, he was treated as anyone else would be?
Yes, he lost two-thirds of his monthly income and was disqualified in the same way that someone who was not in the public glare might have been.
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