West Law Report


Posted in Guilty pleas, judicial review, Westlaw Reports by mrkooenglish on May 2, 2008

Last updated: 7:12 PM BST 09/04/2008
Divisional Court
Richards LJ, Swift J
March 13, 2008

Convictions – Guilty pleas – Prisoners – Remand – Meaning of “convicted prisoner” in R. 2(1) Prison Rules 1999 – R. 2(1) Prison Rules 1999


The claimant prisoner (S) applied for judicial review of his treatment as a convicted prisoner whilst held on remand awaiting sentence. S had been remanded in custody charged with offences of dishonesty. Over a year later he pleaded guilty to the offences and sentencing was adjourned. From that date S was treated within the prison system as a convicted prisoner, with the result he lost the rights and privileges enjoyed by unconvicted prisoners. Sentencing took place over two years later when he was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. S submitted that

  1. (1) on the true construction of the definition of “convicted prisoner” in the Prison Rules 1999 r. 2(1), he remained an unconvicted prisoner after he had entered his pleas of guilty and was on remand awaiting sentence and became a convicted prisoner only when he was sentenced;
  2. (2) the loss of rights and privileges associated with the change of status from unconvicted to convicted prisoner might operate as a deterrent to submitting an early plea of guilty.


Whether S was a “convicted prisoner” for the purposes of the Prison Rules 1999 r. 2(1).

HELD (application refused)

(1) S had been lawfully treated as a convicted prisoner following his pleas of guilty. The definition of convicted prisoner in r. 2(1) of the Rules referred to a conviction in the narrow sense, namely a verdict of guilty or acceptance of a plea of guilty. The words used in r. 2(1) focused on the actual finding of guilt rather than on the final disposal of the case, S (An Infant) v Recorder of Manchester [1971] AC 481 HL applied.

(2) Whilst the loss of status as an unconvicted prisoner might discourage early pleas of guilty, that was likely in practice to be outweighed by the credit that was given to an early plea in the sentencing process. There was no suggestion that S was discouraged from entering guilty pleas. The disadvantages of the regime to which S was subjected were expressly taken into account by the sentencing judge, who reduced the sentence imposed accordingly. That was a further way in which any disincentive that arose from the change in a prisoner’s status, following a plea of guilty, might be counteracted.

Flo Krause (instructed by Cartwright King, Nottingham) for the claimant. Ian Hutton (instructed by Treasury Solicitor) for the defendant.


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