March 23rd, 2013
The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP
Attorney General’s Office
23 March 2013
Dear Attorney General,
We are writing to express our concerns in relation to the sentencing of Jordan Sheard for the manslaughter of Steven Simpson. A custodial sentence of three years and six months was imposed by His Honour Judge Keen QC at Sheffield Crown Court on 21 March 2013, following a plea of guilty by the defendant. Notwithstanding the guilty plea, having examined the media coverage of the case it is our view that the sentence was unduly lenient in the circumstances.
Our concerns about the sentence imposed upon the defendant stem from the fact that the manslaughter of Steven Simpson does not appear to have been dealt with as a case motivated by hostility in accordance with section 146, Criminal Justice Act 2003. In our opinion the facts of the case quite clearly involve proven demonstrated hostility by Jordan Sheard towards Steven Simpson on the basis of both his sexual orientation and disability. It appears that, contrary to section 146, these aggravating factors were not taken into account when sentencing Jordan Sheard, nor does it seem to have been stated in open court by His Honour Judge Keen that the offence was committed in such circumstances.
Further, it appears that the only aggravating factor taken into account was the attempt by Jordan Sheard to evade apprehension by fleeing the scene of the manslaughter. We are of the view that the offence was one of deliberate and gratuitous violence and that the conduct of Jordan Sheard included elements of sadism towards and the humiliation and degradation of Steven Simpson. Significant mitigating factors justifying such a short custodial sentence are glaringly absent.
A custodial sentence of three years and six months for the manslaughter of Steven Simpson does not reflect the true gravity of the offence committed by Jordan Sheard. We therefore request that this case is referred to the Court of Appeal for consideration of the sentence imposed as unduly lenient.
Stop Hate UK
January 29th, 2013
Stop Hate UK is a national organisation working to provide support to victims of Hate Crime, across the strands of Disability, Gender Identity, Race, Religion and Sexual Orientation. The independent charity has been operating the Stop Hate Line, a 24 hour helpline for Hate Crime victims and witnesses in some areas of the UK, since 2006.
Stop Hate UK has launched a new 24 hour helpline service, Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime, in England and Wales. The new service will be funded by the Ministry of Justice Victim and Witness Fund.
People in England and Wales who have experienced, witnessed or know someone who is experiencing Learning Disability Hate Crime can contact the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline on 0808 802 1155 for support and information. The helpline is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It is free to call the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline from landlines and most mobiles and the number won’t show on a phone bill.
Calls to the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline will be answered by trained staff and volunteers, who understand the impact Learning Disability Hate Crime has on victims. Calls are confidential and callers will be asked whether they need ongoing support. Referrals will be made where consent has been given by the victim. Stop Hate UK will also follow up with callers and offer additional support, referrals or signposting where appropriate. All incidents will be reported to the local police by Stop Hate UK, either with the victim’s details for investigation purposes, if that is what the victim wants, or without the details of the victim for information and monitoring purposes.
Una Morris, Project Manager for Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime at Stop Hate UK said:
“Hate Crime has a significant impact on victims, their families, friends, carers and on the wider community. Our experience of working with victims of Learning Disability Hate Crime tells us that some people believe that the incidents they have experienced are not serious enough to report to the police or they simply experience too many incidents to report, often on a daily basis. For other victims, they may not know that what they have experienced is Hate Crime, although they might know it is wrong, or they may be experiencing Mate Crime and think the perpetrators are their friends. We can support people to identify their experiences as Hate Crime or Mate Crime.”
“The Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline offers a mechanism for reporting, support and information, as well as a way to access the support of other agencies, such as the police and housing providers. The helpline is available 24 hours a day for anyone in England and Wales who is affected by Learning Disability Hate Crime or knows someone who is.”
Paul Giannasi, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said:
“The Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline is a vital service. We know from the British Crime Survey that Disability Hate Crime is underreported. This is particularly true of Learning Disability Hate Crime. Stop Hate UK’s new helpline offers victims and witnesses an opportunity to report to an independent charity with specialist knowledge of Learning Disability Hate Crime. This service will benefit individuals and communities by increasing confidence in reporting processes and will provide valuable statistical data on the scale of the problem.”
Talk to the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline on 0808 802 1155.
Stop Hate UK is currently developing a range of publicity materials in easy read accessible formats to promote the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline.
Notes to the Editor