Category Archives: Court of Appeal
Three corrupt female prison officers, one of who had sexual intercourse with a convicted rapist three times inside a maximum security prison, have lost their appeals against conviction.
Karen Cosford (above), 47, had sex with inmate Brian McBride, who was serving a life sentence at Wakefield Prison, during a relationship that lasted several months had her appeal dismissed by the Court of Appeal headed by Lord Justice Leveson.
Two of her colleagues, Carolyn Falloon and Jacqueline Flynn, who were also jailed for “covering up” the affair and “abusing their position of trust” also lost their appeals against conviction.
All three had appealed their convictions of misconduct in public office on the basis that they were technically prison nurses and not prison officers, with the result they claimed that they could not be convicted of misconduct in an office they did not hold.
Dismissing the appeals Lord Justice Leveson said :”In our judgment, the [argument] that “a nurse is a nurse” does not start to do justice to the task which these appellants undertook.
“The responsibilities of a nurse in a general hospital are to the patients for whose care they are responsible; the responsibilities of a nurse (whether trained as a prison officer or not) in a prison setting are not only for the welfare of the prisoners (their patients); they are also responsible to the public for, so far as it is within their power to do so, the proper, safe and secure running of the prison in which they work.
“Whether the prison is run directly by the state or indirectly through a private company paid by the state to perform this function does not alter the public nature of the duties of those undertaking the work: the responsibilities to the public are identical.
“These appeals are dismissed”
The Guardian reports that TV cameras will be allowed into the court of appeal for the first time from October and senior judges will be offered training before appearing on camera, the lord chief justice has revealed.
Lord Judge cautioned against government plans to extend filming into crown courts, where criminal trials take place before juries, for fear it will provoke disruptions and deter witnesses from giving evidence.
In his last annual appearance before the House of Lords’ constitution committee, the most senior judge in England and Wales also warned that cuts in legal aid and a reluctance to employ senior QCs in court cases could end up costing the government more money than it saves.
Judge, 71, who is due to step down in September after five years in office, told peers: “I’m perfectly happy with cameras coming into court, provided their presence doesn’t increase the risk that justice won’t be done. [But] I’m very troubled about having cameras just swanning around the court.
“I think you have got to see how it works in the court of appeal. I am bound to say that in most cases I suspect John and Jane citizen will find it incredibly dull.
He added: “I hope I am not being cynical, but I can envisage a time coming – not in any situation that I can contemplate today nor with any political party currently in office – but I can see a political advantage being seen, ‘Well, the television companies have been awfully difficult at the moment for the last few months, it might do quite well for us to let them do it.’”
He told the committee: “We will arrange for those judges who sit in these courts to have some training in the fact of the television cameras going to be present and the general idea is that it will start in October in the two courts of appeal.”
Ministers have said they intend to extend filming into crown courts to show judges’ sentencing remarks “in due course”. Judge said it should only be done with the agreement of the lord chief justice. His counterpart in New Zealand had warned him about incidents where there had been demonstrations from people in court during sentencing, including “cheers and boos”.
Filming would start in October in the criminal and civil divisions of the appeal court, he said. Extending filming to jury trials might deter witnesses from coming forward. The supreme court in Westminster is the only court that currently has its proceedings routinely televised.
On government cuts to legal aid, Lord Judge said he was aware the country was “bust”, but warned that more unrepresented litigants would cause problems in the courts. “The problem is going to be mainly in the county courts, and the district judges, who I think will bear the brunt of this, will have a very much more burdensome task and inevitably they will have to have reduced lists.”
Asked if that meant that cutting legal aid would increase costs elsewhere in the court system because more courts and judges would be needed, he replied: “You can say that but I can’t possibly agree – but I’m not disagreeing.”
He also responded to concerns about proposals by the justice minister, Chris Grayling, to cut back on the use of QCs in murder trials. “Yes, I am concerned about it,” he told the committee. “The best counsel will do the case quickly, the best counsel will tell the judge what the points are clearly and therefore a trial which may take 10 days will then take seven, so we save money there.” The best QCs would help get cases through court more quickly and save the cost of extra days in court.
Lord Judge said it was “daft” that wealthy individuals ended up on legal aid and suggested that applications to freeze assets were self-defeating, because they prevented defendants paying for their legal representation. He suggested the matter could be solved by permitting some of their frozen assets to be released to pay for their defence.
Reducing legal aid and criminal court lawyers’ fees would also have an adverse affect on efforts to improve diversity within the judiciary. “This is one that causes me great anxiety,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of female and ethnic minority barristers spend their time doing family or criminal work. We have to offer them a reasonable career offering them an opportunity to make progress and feel better rewarded.
“What troubles me about the proposals … is that we are going to end up with a reduced number of women and those from ethnic backgrounds coming into the profession.”
It could have a serious impact on efforts to improve diversity among judges in 10 or 20 years time, he said.
The lord chief justice said that he was expecting a government decision on judicial pensions next week.
Justice minister Helen Grant said later: “We believe televising court proceedings will help improve transparency and bring greater public confidence and understanding of the criminal justice system. We want to modernise the system and make the courts accessible to the public, whilst ensuring correct procedures are in place to safeguard all participants.”
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, 56, has lost her appeal over a UK Government refusal to fund her legal challenge against a death sentence imposed by an Indonesian court for drug smuggling.
Her lawyers attempted to challenge a High Court ruling that the Government was not legally obliged to pay for “an adequate lawyer” to represent her.
But today three senior judges headed by Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls, dismissed her challenge in the Court of Appeal.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office refused to fund her case as a matter of Government policy.
She was sentenced to death by firing squad by a court in Bali for taking £1.6 million of cocaine on to the island.
In January, the UK High Court upheld the Government’s stance of not providing legal funding for British nationals arrested abroad, even in exceptional circumstances.
After the High Court gave its decision, Sandiford received a private donation of over £2,500 that enabled her to be represented by an Indonesian lawyer at the subsequent Bali appeal.
Having lost that first appeal, she is now in a race against time to raise money to take her case to Indonesia’s Supreme Court in Jakarta.
The appeal court heard today Sandiford needs about £8,000 to fight on.
The sum of £2,000 has already been found, but around £6,000 is still needed from the Government as money from private sources following publicity was “fully exhausted”, said lawyers for Sandiford, who is not entitled to legal aid in Indonesia.
Lord Dyson, sitting with two other judges, said the court had given “very careful consideration” to the issues raised in what he described as a “troubling” case.
He said the reasons for the judgment would be given “as soon as possible”.
Lord Dyson, when announcing the decision to dismiss the appeal, said it was “obviously a terribly serious matter”.
He said it was “most unfortunate” that the sum required to secure the representation sought by the appellant – roughly £6,000 – was “relatively speaking” a “very small sum indeed”.
The judge added: “But that cannot affect the principle that we have had to consider and it cannot affect our decision.
“But it may be that other means may be found to secure the relatively small sum in the course of the next few days.”
Rosa Curling, a solicitor with law firm Leigh Day, which is representing Sandiford, said outside court: “We are obviously very disappointed by the decision and we will consider with our client once we have received the reasoning of the court whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.”
Balinese police said Sandiford was at the centre of a drugs-importing ring involving three other Britons, but she claimed she was forced to transport the drugs to protect her children whose safety was at stake.
She received the death sentence, despite prosecutors asking only for a 15-year jail term, after she was accused of damaging the image of Bali.
Aidan O’Neill, a Scottish QC, argued on Sandiford’s behalf that it was reasonable to expect the Foreign Office to provide funding and the case was of “overwhelming importance” because it involved the death penalty.
During a day-long appeal hearing, he submitted: “It also raises issues of significant public interest, concerning the extent to which fundamental rights protection can be claimed against the UK Government by UK nationals when abroad, and specifically in non-European countries.”
Mr O’Neill said it was “an exceptional case” involving importants points of European law.
The Government claim to have “a long-standing policy” not to provide funding was not true and it had in the past provided financial assistance, in exceptional circumstances, to prepare legal proceedings.
Mr O’Neill said an urgent decision was needed because an appeal to the Indonesian Supreme Court had to be notified to that court by April 25, Thursday this week.
Defending the refusal to pay out, Martin Chamberlain QC, for the Foreign Secretary, said the non-funding policy was rational and lawful.
In any event, he argued, the Sandiford case “did not stand out from the crowd” when it came to similar cases – “I don’t think this case is exceptional”.
Before the 30-minute adjournment in which the court considered its decision, Lord Dyson, sitting with Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice Patten, referred to the speed with which the court had had to deal with the issues raised because of the urgency of the case and said it was “terribly unsatisfactory”.
He indicated it could have been a case where there should have been a reference to the European Courts.
Today’s challenge was to the January 31 ruling by High Court judges Mrs Justice Gloster and Mrs Justice Davies that the Government was legally entitled to adopt a blanket rule denying funding and it did not act irrationally or unlawfully in Sandiford’s case.
The British Government said it was disappointed when Sandiford lost her bid to block the sentence.
The FCO reiterated the UK’s opposition to the death penalty and said it had repeatedly made representations to the Indonesian government about the case.
Foreign Office lawyers say the Government opposes the death penalty and supports initiatives designed to encourage states in favour of it to “change their position”.
It also makes grants to charities such as Reprieve to assist individuals charged with capital offences and, in appropriate cases, to make state-to-state representations.
But the court was told that “it does not operate a legal aid scheme to cover legal expenses for British nationals involved in criminal proceedings abroad. Nor does it provide funds in exceptional cases.”
Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith said: “Sometimes courts order politicians to do the right thing, and sometimes they don’t.
“Ultimately, though, it all comes down to the same thing: does David Cameron’s Big Society mean that Lindsay Sandiford has to face execution alone, or will the UK government ultimately recognise its duty to provide a very small amount of funding to help her have something as basic as a lawyer to stand at her side when a foreign country seeks her execution?”
Sandiford told those who have donated money towards her appeal that she has been humbled by the experience as she deals with “the ultimate emotional rollercoaster ride”.
She also said she is appealing “first and foremost” so she can meet her granddaughter, who was born in December.
In a message sent to supporters yesterday, she said: “I cannot thank you enough for your generosity and caring. I’ve always been an independent person and I hate not to be able to pay my way.
“So for me this is a very humbling experience having to rely on the kindness of strangers and am very deeply touched.
“I am trying to help myself. As you are probably aware the Government won’t assist despite pontificating that they are opposed to the death penalty.
“I knit and have just finished a piece that I’m hoping to auction to assist paying for my local lawyer and his assistants.
“They are really good people along with the enormous debt I owe to Reprieve for their support and simple caring.
“I know I have been difficult to deal with as the situation I am in leads to the ultimate emotional rollercoaster ride. They have been brilliant.”
She also thanked UK charity Prisoners Abroad for “quietly” supporting her with funds for drinking water and food.
“I will never be able to express the joy they gave to me,” she wrote. “The precious gift of a visit from my youngest son.
“Finally thank you to my family without whom I would have not had the will to carry on. The love I have received is beyond measure.
“I’m appealing first and foremost for someone I haven’t met but so very much want to and want to get to know. My granddaughter who was born on December 1 2012.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you for your caring.”
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and media organisations go to court today in a bid to overturn an order granting anonymity to a killer who committed “exceptionally horrific crimes”.
Their move follows a decision by a High Court judge that allowing the convicted murderer, who has spent decades inprison, to be publicly named would potentially endanger his life.
The order at the centre of the case was made by Mr Justice Simon, sitting in London, at a hearing relating to a judicial review action brought by the man against a Parole Board decision refusing him a transfer to open conditions.
He and Lord Justice Pitchford will hear the challenge against the order, which was made on January 23.
On that date Mr Justice Simon continued previous orders that have hidden the man’s identity over several years.
At the hearing he rejected submissions from the Press Association that granting the man anonymity was setting a precedent for other high-profile prisoners to seek similar orders.
The judge said the Press Association had “raised some important points”, but he was satisfied he should grant the order – “at least for the moment”.
He said media organisations could apply to challenge or vary the banning order.
Even the details of the killer’s offending – referred to by his own lawyer as “horrific and horrendous” – cannot be disclosed to the public.
When making the anonymity application on January 23, Quincy Whitaker, for the man, told the judge there was “a serious likelihood of a serious attack” on him in prison if his identity was revealed in the press and media.
She argued this would infringe his rights under the 1998 Human Rights Act not to have his life endangered and not to be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment.
The prisoner’s judicial review challenge was against a decision of the Parole Board in August 2011not to recommend his transfer to open conditions.
He claimed that in reaching its conclusion the panel acted in breach of the rules of natural justice, in basing its decision on material which had not been deployed and reasons which had not been canvassed during the hearings, “and on which the claimant had no opportunity to address them”.
But in February, Mr Justice Simon rejected his case, announcing that the claim “fails and is dismissed”.
He said it was “no part of the case advanced on behalf of the claimant to minimise what were, on any view, exceptionally horrific crimes” – carrying out “sadistic, unprovoked and vicious murders”.
A man convicted of a Birmingham robbery has won a 28-year fight for justice after appeal judges were told of doubts about the credibility of the principal police witness.
The Court of Appeal said Martin Foran’s 1985 convictions for robbery and conspiracy to rob were unsafe and had to be quashed.
Mr Foran (above) had been given an eight-year jail term at Birmingham Crown Court after a Birmingham publican was attacked at his home.
He had twice unsuccessfully mounted appeals. But three judges upheld his latest challenge after the Criminal Cases Review Commission had presented new information at a hearing in London.
Judges were told that Mr Foran had always denied making a confession when questioned by police – and they said that issue was at the centre of the appeal.
Lord Justice Leveson, who headed the appeal panel, said Mr Foran had been interviewed by a detective who had been a member of a “now notorious” police unit.
“Twice since the convictions, appeals against the convictions have been unsuccessfully mounted to this court,” said the judge.
“On this, third, occasion, the Criminal Cases Review Commission has concluded that there is a real possibility that the convictions will not be upheld in the light of information not previously considered regarding the credibility of the principal police witness, Detective Inspector Paul Matthews, a member of the now notorious West Midlands Police Serious Crime Squad, who interviewed the appellant.”
He added: “A substantial number of convictions arising from investigations conducted by the squad have been quashed as a result of concerns regarding the working practices adopted by officers there.”
Lord Justice Leveson said “malpractice subsequently identified” in connection with the squad – which no longer exists – included “physical abuse of prisoners, fabrication of admissions, planting of evidence and mishandling of informants”.
The judge continued: “Detective Inspector Matthews has been identified in a number of cases of such malpractice and, in particular, has been associated with the fabrication of confessions.”
He went on: “Once the reliability of the police evidence is called into serious question … we have no doubt that this conviction cannot be regarded as safe.”
The Government vowed today to carry on the legal battle to deport radical preacher Abu Qatada, nicknamed ’Abracadabra’ by prisoners, after the latest removal bid was rejected by the Court of Appeal.
Three judges in Lod,on dismissed a challenge by Home Secretary Theresa May over a decision allowing the radical preacher to stay in the UK.
A Home Office statement following their ruling said the department plans to seek leave to appeal.
A spokesman said: “This is not the end of the road, and the Government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada.
“We will consider this judgment carefully and plan to seek leave to appeal.
“In the meantime we continue to work with the Jordanians to address the outstanding legal issues preventing deportation.”
Mrs May’s legal team submitted at a recent one-day hearing that Qatada was a “truly dangerous” individual who escaped deportation through “errors of law”.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) decided in November that Qatada could not be removed to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, without “a real risk” of evidence obtained through torture being used against him at a retrial.
Siac judges said there was a “real risk” that statements from Qatada’s former co-defendants Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher, who were allegedly tortured, could be used against him at a retrial, breaching his human rights.
The Home Secretary appealed and disputed the claims.
Unanimously dismissing Mrs May’s appeal and upholding Siac’s decision, the appeal judges ruled: “Siac was entitled to conclude that there is a real risk that the impugned statements will be admitted in evidence at a retrial and that, in consequence, there is a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice.”
Lord Dyson, sitting with Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Elias, said the court accepted that Qatada “is regarded as a very dangerous person”, but that was not “a relevant consideration” under human rights laws.
At the hearing of the appeal, Edward Fitzgerald QC, appearing for Qatada – who is also known as Omar Othman – defended the Siac ruling, saying there was “concrete and compelling evidence” that Qatada’s co-defendants were tortured.
Mr Fitzgerald argued that there was “a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice” if Qatada, 52, was sent back to Jordan.
But James Eadie QC, appearing for Mrs May, said the Siac decision should be quashed.
He had argued that the Siac judges, chaired by Mr Justice Mitting, had taken an “erroneous” view of the position in Jordan and the legal tests that had to be applied.
Mr Eadie said the Jordanian constitution “prohibits clearly and expressly the use of torture and the reliance on any statement obtained under duress, including torture”.
He said there was no reason to believe that Jordanian judges would not take that into account.
It was a matter for Jordan, and Siac erred in blocking deportation, argued Mr Eadie.
Qatada, who was living on bail at a London address, is back in custody after he was arrested for alleged breaches.
A hearing over whether he should be granted bail was due to be held last Thursday but was delayed.
Police searched the hate preacher’s house before he was held.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, of the Metropolitan Police, revealed last week that the hate preacher is being investigated over extremist material.
A severely disabled prisoner who requires round-the-clock treatment does not have to go back to jail, the Court of Appeal ruled today.
Daniel Roque Hall, 30, is serving a three-year sentence after admitting smuggling 2.8kg of cocaine in his wheelchair back from a holiday in Peru.
He suffers from the rare degenerative condition Friedreich’s ataxia and is not expected to live into his 40s. He has spent most of his sentence in hospital.
Allowing his appeal against sentence, Lord Justice Hughes, Mr Justice Wyn Williams and Mr Justice Hickinbottom substituted the lesser term of 18 months, which means he can return to his north-west London home this week.
Lord Justice Hughes said there was no lack of punishment in what he had undergone since being sentenced last summer, and his case was “an appropriate case for an exceptional application of mercy”.
The court was told of his fear of dying if he is sent back to Wormwood Scrubs in west London because the prison cannot meet his complex care needs.
Hall was taken to University College Hospital last August after his health deteriorated in the jail and since then has been kept in hospital under prison guard.
Although they are allowing Hall to return home, the judges made an order under the Serious Crime Act 2007 requiring him to surrender to the police his two passports – one British and one Nicaraguan – and not to travel abroad for three years from the date of his original conviction.
Lord Justice Hughes said the travel ban was necessary to counter any risk of him becoming involved in further offending, adding: “It is necessary because of the risk which affects him as well as other people”.
Last month Hall won a High Court injunction preventing the prison service from returning him to jail pending today’s ruling.
Protesters had demonstrated outside Wormwood Scrubs after he was told he would be sent back.
Hall pleaded guilty to smuggling 2.8kg of cocaine out of Peru at Isleworth Crown Court in February last year and was sentenced in July. The court heard he had could not have acted alone and may have been “groomed” online.
Friedreich’s ataxia affects body co-ordination and causes diabetes and a heart defect which requires constant monitoring.
Hall was rushed to hospital last August and placed on a life support machine when his condition worsened.
Hall’s family said the two constant carers he needed were not supplied while he was inprison, and he had been denied vital medication and stretching exercises.
This had resulted in severe spasms, which affected his heart.
Hall’s mother Anne, who joined supporters who clapped as the appeal judges announced their decision, said she was “absolutely delighted” with the court’s decision to release her son.
She said: “The court has made a right and just decision for which I am grateful.
“It is important for people with disabilities that their needs are properly understood and prisons can cater for them in the way they would be treated in the community.
Mrs Hall said it was a pity the prison authorities did not draw on the “deep knowledge” of the organisation Ataxia UK.
She added: “Ataxia UK said in July that sending Daniel to Wormwood Scrubs for three years was a death sentence, and the seven weeks he spent there did almost cost him his life.”
Lord Justice Hughes said in his written judgment it was “a very unusual case” in which the trial judge had to find the right sentence for a man suffering from “a grave combination of rare, long-term medical conditions” which were “quite dreadful” and interfered with virtually all his bodily functions.
Hall had become confined to a wheelchair 15 years ago and required 24-hour monitoring and a very high level of constant assistance.
His family had connections in South America, and his father was Nicaraguan. He had travelled to Peru with his carer and committed a serious offence of importing into the UK a large quantity of cocaine with a high level of purity, worth about £370,000.
“The defendant was not exploited by someone else, nor does he suggest that he was blackmailed or put under severe pressure,” said the judge.
“Severely disabled as he himself is, the quantity of the drug imported was capable of ruining the lives of many other people, either directly from taking it or via the harm that those who took it might do to others.”
The court could not be sure whether his offending was prompted by resentment against society generally “attributable to the appalling handicaps life had visited upon him”.
It was his first offence and he had demonstrated genuine remorse and been at pains to exonerate his carer.
But the condition of gravely ill or severely disabled people who committed serious offences “cannot be a passport to absence of punishment”, said the judge.
If Hall offended again punishment would inevitably be the outcome, with some loss of quality of care.
The judge added: “There is no lack of punishment in what he has undergone since being sentenced in the summer of last year.
“He is now said by the hospital to be significantly more frail than at the time of sentence.”
The events of last August, when Hall had to be taken from prison to hospital, did not demonstrate any breach of human rights by the prison authorities.
But they did illustrate the “inherently unstable combination of conditions from which he suffers and the real potential for unexpected deterioration over a short period.”
If the trial judge had known, “we think he would have felt able to make a significantly greater reduction in his sentence”.
Later a Prison Service spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that the court did not uphold Daniel Roque-Hall’s human rights allegations in respect to his treatment at HMP Wormwood Scrubs and concluded that the prison had not acted unlawfully.
“The Prison Service holds in custody those sentenced by the Courts and it is committed to treating all prisoners humanely and decently.”
Welcoming the court judgment, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “Prison is a double punishment for a severely disabled person.”
Ataxia UK said it was “delighted” with the court ruling and Hall was expected to return home today.
Chief executive Sue Millman said: “Daniel was given a three-year custodial term, not a death sentence.
“Therefore we are extremely glad that there was a legal case for the reduction in Daniel’s jail term, as this means he is no longer under threat of further compromise to his health and well-being.”
Killer Jeremy Bamber’s latest legal action in his long-running battle to overturn his convictions for murdering five relatives 27 years ago was thrown out by High Court judges today.
Bamber, 51, wanted to challenge a refusal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the independent body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, to refer his case back to the Court of Appeal to be looked at again.
Today’s hearing followed the rejection by a single judge, who studied the case papers in private, of Bamber’s application for permission to seek judicial review of the CCRC’s decision.
His renewed application was refused today by Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Mr Justice Globe.
Sir John, announcing the decision of the court, said that having looked at the approach taken by the CCRC in the case he could not see “any way” in which a challenge could be made to the decision reached.
Sir John said: “It seems to me that a challenge is impossible to mount.”
Bamber, who is serving a whole-life term for the 1985 killings, has always protested his innocence and claims his schizophrenic sister, Sheila Caffell, shot her family before turning the gun on herself in a remote Essex farmhouse.
Announcing its decision in April, the CCRC said that, despite a lengthy and complex investigation, it “has not identified any evidence or legal argument that it considers capable of raising a real possibility that the Court of Appeal would quash the convictions”.
:: Bamber and two other murderers are involved in a European court battle against their “whole-life” prison terms – which give prisoners no chance of release.
Lawyers are urging judges in Strasbourg to rule that UK law allowing the most dangerous offenders to be kept behind bars until they die breaches their human rights.
A court clerk who made legal history when he became the first person to be jailed under new bribery legislation won a two-year cut in his sentence today.
Munir Patel, 22, of Green Lane, Dagenham, east London, was originally handed a three-year prison term for bribery and ordered to serve six years concurrently for misconduct in a public office – making an overall sentence of six years.
At the Court of Appeal in London today the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with two other judges, ruled that the total of six years, imposed in November on a young man of previous good character who pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, was “excessive”.
Lord Judge announced: “In our judgment the appropriate sentence for this criminal activity remains a substantial sentence, but the sentence should be reduced from six to four years.”
London’s Southwark Crown Court heard last year that Patel, who worked at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court in east London, used his privileged access to the court system to help more than 50 offenders avoid prosecution relating to driving offences in exchange for sums of up to £500.
He became the first person to be prosecuted and convicted under the Bribery Act 2010.
The reduction in sentence was achieved by cutting Patel’s original six-year term formisconduct in a public office to four years.
Lord Judge said: “The appellant abused his position as a court clerk to pervert the course of justice by taking bribes from those who had committed motoring offences and enabled them to escape the proper consequences for what they had done.
“It is clear from the evidence that he solicited the bribes and clear too that he started on this process very soon after he started work at the magistrates’ court.”
He said it was also clear that in order to “induce or persuade” people to give him bribes, Patel told them that if they came before the magistrates “they would be prejudiced against them on racist grounds”.
Lord Judge said: “He acted on his initiative and enjoyed all the profits.
“There is no doubt these were serious offences and the public is entitled to rely on the integrity of anyone who is involved in the administration of justice, whether as a judge or magistrate or a court official.”
He added: “All are expected to be incorruptible. That confident expectation was tarnished by these criminal activities.”
Patel was guilty of a “systematic and prolonged breach of trust”.
Lord Judge said: “As a result, some drivers who should have been disqualified just because they would have exceeded the relevant points total avoided disqualification, and others avoided fines and penalty points which they would have justly incurred.”
Each incident represented a deliberate perversion of the course of justice by an official of the court system.
Lord Judge said: “A very substantial sentence was an appropriate sentence to be imposed on the appellant. That said, we have come to the conclusion that the sentence which was actually imposed … was an excessive sentence.
“The question for us is whether a six-year total sentence on a young man of good character who pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity was excessive.
“We have come to the conclusion that it was.”
A young man who spent more than seven years behind bars for a murder he insists he did not commit had his conviction quashed by judges today.
Sam Hallam, 24, was at the Court of Appeal in London to hear the announcement by Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Spencer that his conviction is “unsafe”.
Mr Hallam, who was convicted at the Old Bailey in 2005 of the murder of a trainee chef and sentenced to life, was dramatically released on bail by the three judges yesterday after prosecutors said they were not opposing his appeal.
His QC, Henry Blaxland, told the court that Mr Hallam, of Hoxton, east London, was the victim of a “serious miscarriage of justice”.
Mr Hallam was 18 when he was found guilty of the murder of Essayas Kassahun, 21, who died after being attacked by a group of youths on the St Luke’s estate in Clerkenwell, London, in October 2004.
His family and friends have waged a high-profile campaign insisting he is innocent, with supporters including the actor Ray Winstone.
Mr Hallam sat in the public gallery with his mother Wendy Cohen as the judges gave their reasons for their decision.
There was tumultuous applause and shouts of “justice” as the conviction was quashed.