The return journey to York following the sentencing hearing was a somber one, my girlfriend and I were extremely deflated. DC John had promised to contact me after the weekend to discuss what could be done. I don’t remember exactly but it was either the Monday or Tuesday when he called me. He explained that he thought the sentence was lenient and we could appeal to the Appeals Court at the High Court on the leniency. I was relieved that someone else thought it lenient. I told DC John that I wanted to pursue a lenient sentence appeal. He asked me to leave it with him to fill out the paperwork to send to the Crown Prosecution Service to start the process. A day or two later he called me back to say the CPS were not interested in pursuing it any further and that if I wanted to, then I should write to the Attorney General, but I had only 28 days from date of sentence to do so. I was so very deflated and beaten it took me a week to write. By the 12th February I was at the post office with several copies of the following letter ready to post.
Attorney General’s Office
20 Victoria Street
RE: Appeal of Unduly Lenient Sentence Case: Crown V David Ronald Baulch
Hove Trial Centre
Trial Reference: T20150605
Conviction Date: Friday 22nd January 2016
Sentence Date: Friday 05th February 2016
I am writing to complain about the leniency of the sentence passed on David Baulch following his double conviction for indecent assault on minors. As the victim in count one of the three charges I am deeply upset and outraged that passing a two-year custodial sentence, suspended for two years, is unduly lenient and sends a message to other victims and the public that justice will not be served.
During the sentencing hearing the sentence was based upon the years that have passed since the offences as well as some good character references. These references appeared to hold more weight than the substantial impact upon me as highlighted in the victim impact statements. At no point during the hearing was any evidence about poor character offered or heard. I believe that the aggravating factors such as the involvement of oral penetration (which is now considered to be rape), Baulch’s constant denials (even when given an opportunity during sentencing to show kindness and admit, he refused), the age of the victims at the time (5 and under), the opportunities to spare myself and the other victims the trauma of the trial, or even the fact that he failed to appear at his first magistrate’s court appearance in May 2015 bore little impact on sentencing.
Neither the fact he owns and works as a landscape gardener, a business that offers building children’s play areas, or he lives and works in the Onslow Arms public house in Loxwood, a business that prides itself as being family friendly appeared to be considered as a risk. I believe this is a risk to the public as neither require Baulch to be DBS checked. As no mention in court was made as to whether he should be placed on the Sex Offender’s Register, subsequently there’s confusion as to whether he will be on the register. I am therefore extremely concerned that children are not protected from this convicted child sex offender.
I’d like to draw your attention to the Court of Appeal’s decision in the failed appeal by Max Clifford. They decided that:
“…the court should have regard to any applicable sentencing guidelines for equivalent offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003”
This not only sets a precedent but would suggest that because oral penetration was involved that it should be considered rape by today’s standards during sentencing.
The response to the sentence has been one of disgust, a sample of comments passed to me have been
- “Totally disgusted by this”
- “Appalled by this”
- “Absolute disgrace!!!”
- “That is pathetic to say the least”
With this in mind I believe that the sentencing hearing did not pass a fair sentence and I ask you to reconsider this and instruct the Court of Appeal to reconsider the leniency of the sentence passed.
I sent copies to DC John and Sam my ISVA as well as a copy to my MP with a covering letter asking for his help as my MP to apply some political pressure on the AG. To this day I still have not received a reply from him, despite having tracked the item to delivery. I don’t want to make this political, but will leave it at my disappointment that my democratically elected MP failed to represent me, his constituent when asked. I did however get positive feedback from DC John & Sam the ISVA who both said it was well written, concise and made compelling arguments.
Two days before the 28 day time limit was due to pass it received the following email
Thank you for your letter dated 12th February requesting a review of the sentence passed on David Baulch for the assaults upon you and another. I was sorry to read about all that you have been through as a result of the abuse and the effect that it continues to have on you. I understand that your ordeal has only been prolonged by having to go through the process of a full trial.
The Solicitor General has decided to refer this sentence to the Court of Appeal so that they can consider whether it is unduly lenient but I thought it would be helpful if I explain what might happen next.
When a request to review a sentence on the basis that it is potentially unduly lenient is received, papers relating to the case are obtained from the Crown Prosecution Service so that one of the Law Officers can review the case. If the Law Officers wish to refer a sentence, there is a very strict time limit which must be complied with. In your case this time limit expires tomorrow.
Unfortunately your letter was not received until 19th February and in the time available we were not able to obtain all of the papers that we ordinarily would prior to a Law Officer making a decision on whether to refer the case to the Court of Appeal. The Solicitor General considered the papers that were available and was satisfied that it was right to make an application to the Court of Appeal to refer the sentence as a potentially unduly lenient sentence. An application has now been lodged with the Court.
However, I should explain that the Solicitor General will need to review his decision once he has received all the relevant papers, and if he does not believe that the case will be successful, he will withdraw the application.
I am sorry not to be able to give you a more definitive answer about the case at this stage. It may take a few weeks to obtain and review all the necessary papers but we will let you know the outcome of the review as soon as it happens. We will let you know straightaway if a decision is taken to withdraw the application. If the case is to be pursued then we will notify you of the hearing date in due course and you will be able to attend the proceedings if you wish to do so.
Although not a definitive answer I felt somewhat relieved that they were prepared to give this appeal a chance. It by no means guaranteed a successful appeal or even an increase in sentence handed down to Baulch. It did however give a glimmer of hope that justice would be served. A month had almost passed and I still didn’t know for sure if Baulch would be on the Sex Offender’s Register.
Out of the blue two months after the sentencing hearing I had a phone call from the Attorney General’s Office to tell me the appeals hearing was to be held at the High Court the next day. I was furious, it gave me no time to make arrangements to see the process. They agreed to keep me informed as to the outcome, so much like dealing with the CPS it was a case of playing the waiting game. I can’t remember if it was the next day or day after when they eventually rang, but it was just as I was about to see a film with my girlfriend. They informed me the Appeals Court judges had refused my appeal. I demanded to know why, because at the very least I was owed that. They said they didn’t have the full judgement, just the verdict and that I’d have to wait 6 weeks for it to be published.
6 weeks had passed and I heard nothing so much like the police before DC Peter, I was chasing up the Attorney General’s Office. Eventually I received an email with the full judgement.
If you wish to you can read the full verdict here as handed down by the Appeals Court judges.
There’s much I feel about the judgement, all of which I will save for my final blog piece about my quest for justice.